I am sending a shout out to those who have been formed in Spirit by mothering, and faithfully pass it on by the way they practice mothering! There may be no more active and steadfast facilitators of resurrection and new life than those who accept the calling of mothering and inhabit it, not only for the sake of those in need of care, but find in the vocation itself, the place where the Holy meets them, loves them, shapes them and empowers them.
I am graced in being a Patheos blogger to be surrounded by a cloud of witnesses who are mothers of children of all ages. I am gifted to be a grandmother to children whose mothers are exemplary, talented and fun. I am often in awe of all that these women (and the men who also “mother”) have asked themselves to do in being intentional and competent caregivers and life-sustainers. I am stunned by all the issues with which they need to wrestle, things that were not even on the table for discussion when I first came into motherhood–styles of parenting, medical strategies, dietary cautions, boundaries for social networking, attitudes toward other faiths, races and religions. The mothers I see and hear most often have deep integrity, honesty and tenacity is finding their way for themselves and their offspring.
It was being thrust into full-time motherhood that was the most intense crucible of my adulthood that began the deep formation of my life with God that allowed me to live into that vocation and then the simultaneous vocations that followed–Presbyterian minister and seminary professor and spiritual director. Among the forceful company of faithful that led me into a compelling intentional faith as a woman who followed Jesus was the Evangelical Women’s Caucus, who in their first national gathering offered me a chance to reflect on the issue of “Being a Mother and a Person.” I had never as a Christian been given that opportunity to imagine that the love that Jesus offers was for me, just the way I was, a woman, a mother, struggling to be “all I was meant to be.” That pondering, praying and conversing changed the way I understood my life–both my trust of the God in whose image I was made, and the width of the open door of opportunity available to me for service to the world that God loves.With an awakened spirit to the call of God on my life, I remained a stay at home mother until my youngest child went to school, participated in parent councils, drove to field trips, made lunches, kept up with doctors’ appointments, planned trips to the museums and beaches. All of this was fallow ground for the things that would then ensue. Its was in this time that a call emerged in me to go to seminary to prepare for ordination. It was affirmed by a wildly enthusiastic husband, a cheering church body, and a welcoming seminary. However, my first vocations–those of wife and mother–which I understood also to be calls, continued on. While I was studying for a final in Old Testament Prophets, I was also planning Halloween costumes for my kindergartner. Having dropped off the carpool before my first class, I sped across town after my last class to pick it up again. While my younger classmates raced through their three years by taking summer classes, I ferried kids to VBS, summer camp and went on family vacations. Mothering was part of the call.
As I have served in ordained ministry, I have found that some of the charisms and skills that had made it possible for me to be a good enough mother were the same ones that made it possible for me to be a good enough pastor: listening deeply and well, speaking clearly and truthfully, setting boundaries for the life we shared together, forgiving again and again, opening my heart over and over to the ones I was given to love. Using those gifts, practicing those ways of Spirit, compelled me to continue to ground myself in God, over and over. The Psalmist speaks to me, “I have calmed and quieted my soul, like a weaned child with its mother, my soul is like the weaned child that is with me.” (Ps. 131:2) It is from that quiet place with the Holy One that I continue ministering and serving, not being everything to everyone, but being all God calls me to be in the present moment. For my sisters (and brothers) called to this ministry, I salute you and pray God’s energy, imagination, and love fill you on this Mother’s Day!