Is it just me or is the week after Mother’s Day a little like the post-Christmas slump? Not the slump we tired adults feel, but the kind you get as a kid when you didn’t get what you really wanted for Christmas. The kind of slump that makes you ask: “Is this all?”
The second the celebration ends—whatever that looks like—mothers head back to the kitchen to wash the cupboards from the “breakfast” the little kids made. And those who barely made it through the holiday, because it fills them with grief, longing and anger, aren’t any less sad, angry or hopeful the next morning when life returns to normal. Normal meaning, of course, that mothers return to the invisibility in which they live.
This isn’t a problem we can clean up like pancake batter on the stove. It is more than practical and greater than political. The sermons you heard on Mother’s Day, remembering the apple pies someone’s self-sacrificing grandmother made for the endlessly thankless generation of men (who love to throw gratitude as words after she dies), didn’t heal any hearts nor did it fill them. Mothers who parent dead children are still weeping. Single mothers are still screaming. Mother-less mothers are still pouring water from an empty well. Frantic mothers are no less busy and burdened people who do mothering work now must do it all with a smile of gratitude for the pink carnation the pastor distributed to every mother in the congregation. That carnation will last longer than any message she heard on Sunday.
This state of affairs is a spiritual problem and I don’t mean that in the “everything is a spiritual problem” kind of way. It’s actually a problem created by a faulty, damaging, and corrupt theology, a spiritual position of incompleteness, a religious posture of blindness.
But let’s start here: Wherever you are, whatever you are doing right now, please stop and say: “Our Mother Who Art in Heaven.”
How did that go for you?
How did that feel?
Some won’t say that. It may be too uncomfortable. They may feel it is wrong. They may feel God is only a Father. But let me ask you a question, those who may feel that way and those who do not, how has “God as Father only” gone for us? How is it working?
A brief sweep of headlines gives us a good sense: “Pregnancy-related deaths among American women have risen markedly over the past 30 years, despite an overall downward trend worldwide. Many of these deaths are preventable….” (Read more here.)
“There are approximately 800,000 people trafficked across international borders annually and, of these, 80% are women or girls and 50% are minors.” (Read more here.)
“…women are paid 17.7% less than men, earning $10,157 less than men.” (Read more here.)
“Gender bias is most apparent and acute in developing countries where there is a strong cultural preference for sons. Women are disadvantaged from birth in many countries, leading to lifelong health problems.” (Read more here.)
The facts are, “Father God” is not doing much for women. And that’s because Father God is not a WHOLE God. In fact, and hold on to your hats here: Father God is not God.
Let’s look at Genesis: “So God created man in his own image, in the image of God created he him; male and female created he them.”
That’s the King James Version of Genesis 1:27. God created us in God’s image as male and female. Wait. What? If we are male and female, created in God’s image, then God must contain male and female. Yep. But let’s dive a little deeper.
“In the beginning, Elohim created the heavens and the earth. For women, the significance is that the ruach Elohim of Genesis 1:2 is a feminine noun accompanied with a feminine-ending verb form, m’rechephet. Thus, the “spirit of God hovering” is a metaphorical allusion to the feminine in God. The verb m’rechephet is identical to the verb used in Deuteronomy 32:11 where God is compared to a moth-er eagle: God upholds Israel as an eagle hovers and spreads her wings.” (Found here.)
God, who is All, who is Everything, contains both. And for that matter exceeds both—as we well know. God is not a man or a woman. That’s because God is not a person.
For those who have gone into a journey with Christ, what happens to these ferociously held identities? “There is neither Jew nor Gentile, neither slave nor free, nor is there male and female, for you are all one in Christ Jesus.” (Gal. 3:28).
Of course, Mother’s Day does not satisfy when all it involves are throwing a few chocolates in the direction of those who have continued the human race. Those who brought our literal future through their bodies need more than that. Nor does it fill the needs of those who did not birth children but have mothered. And the mothers who have lost children. And the children who have lost mothers. And the men who mother children. We haven’t just invalidated the mothers who birth and raise children, but all mothering, all qualities of mothering, however or wherever expressed.
Our Mother who Art in Heaven, hallowed be thy name.
When we remove the complete wholeness of God, rendering God as Father only, we instantaneously devalue mothers everywhere. And who loses? Only all of us. Every single one of us. Because just as we can learn to find the Great Father within, we can learn to find that Great Mother within. None of us is whole without both parts. That means we are not whole, our image of God is not whole and of course, as I pointed out in the beginning, our world is not whole.
Where do we go for restoration? There are many different places but they all begin in our thought. When we think differently about the Divine expression of the Mother, we individually restore ourselves back to wholeness, back to our origin in a God who reflects us all, only THEN can we begin to work on the urgent restoration in our world.
Said Einstein, “No problem can be solved with the same level of consciousness that created it.”
It is imperative as well as revolutionary, it is necessary, as well as revelatory, that we change our consciousness and find the spiritual solution to this problem. Our Sunday Mother’s Day brunches didn’t fill us because they can’t. We must give ourselves a true lifeline, a sea-change, a fundamental shift.
We must restore the Mother God.
How was Jesus born? He had a mother. He was born from a mother. I suppose he could have come in in any way—through a bolt of lightning, erupting out of the sea, appearing in a burning bush. But he didn’t. He was born through a woman’s body.
The motherness of Mary plays a central role in the life of Jesus. And there she is, at the end of his life, standing at the cross. How important is his mother and the role of mothering? After all, we see him say, “forget your family and come with me.”
As he is dying, he sees his mother and he also sees his closest friend (often called the “beloved disciple”). He says to his mom, “he is your son,” referring to his friend. And to his friend, he says, “she is your mother!” (John 19:26).
Jesus’ work with women is well documented. He serves them, they serve him, they support him, he supports them. He crosses the gender-barriers of the time with conviction. Lest we ever forget this, it is only women who show up at his tomb after his death and among them primarily mothers.
Patriarchy, misogyny and sexism abound. Our hallmark cards are an empty tomb we bury everyone in. As long as we disparage, demean and reject the Mother God, the only beneficiaries of Mother’s Day are the corporations selling gifts. If you continue to divide an un-dividable God or limit the likeness of that God that each person represents, you are part of the problem whether you are a mother or not.
Mother is not an identity, but a quality, which is why any of us can express it. Jesus, himself, exhibits mothering qualities. He was a teacher. A healer. A friend. A lover. A comforter. A nurturer. He fed people. He made wine. He pulled women out of the kitchen and into a place of education. He is not the Mother Goddess but he does not need to be. He only needs to be restored to wholeness in our understanding, as one who showed both the mothering and fathering gifts of God.
Our Mother who art in Heaven, hallowed be thy name. Thy household come, thy will be done.
Did you get the mothering you wanted or needed as a child? Are you receiving mothering now that helps you? I’m guessing you didn’t or that you need more. But do not go to the human mother with your needs. Take them to the Divine Mother. Let’s not go begging at the doorstep of our human mothers. We do not need to blame them for their inadequacy (which we created with our expectations and denigration). We do not need to ask over and over for something they have not been empowered to supply. Everywhere I look people are hungry for some mother-love. I wish I could pour it out. But even my own children are lacking. And that is because only the Mother God can supply this ultimate need within us.
She doesn’t need a special day. She doesn’t need an occasion. Turn to her today. Turn to her and cry out, “Mother, mama, mommy!” Then rest in her lap as she holds you.
“As a mother comforts her child, so I will comfort you,” says this God beyond our understanding yet present in our suffering and limitations (Isaiah 66:13).
Mothers and children of the Great Mother, real comfort is this. It continues long after the last petal has fallen from your Mother’s Day flowers. It is real comfort because it restores us to a proper understanding of the Wholeness of God and thereby ourselves. You want more in this week after Mother’s Day because you know truly and deeply that there is more. Turn away from your children for the gifts of the garden store and turn toward the Mother God for the gift of wholeness.
5/14/2021 7:37:15 PM