Can a woman forget her nursing child, or show no compassion for the child of her womb? Even these may forget, yet I will not forget you. – Isaiah 49:15 (NRSV)
The first time I left my infant daughter to walk four blocks down the street for a quick date with my husband, I felt an invisible umbilical cord stretch between us. It physically hurt to leave her presence, and I was so anxious I couldn’t relax and enjoy my glistening mountain of fettuccine alfredo and glass of cabernet.
Was she OK? How would her body, created and still totally sustained by my own body, survive my absence? My leaky breasts seemed to know every time she mewed, gritched, or wailed. When I walked in the door later that night and spotted her, swaddled in her grandfather’s embrace, oxytocin and relief flooded my being.
Isaiah was wrong. I could never forget my nursing child. But she will forget me. Even now, at age 14, she is cuddled up beside me, reading a book, yet totally oblivious of me. This is as it should be.
Children grow up, stretch the invisible umbilical cord, and sometimes even cut it. Parents, we have succeeded when we have (more or less) worked ourselves out of a job and released our children to their own paths and purpose. But that doesn’t mean we forget them. We close our eyes, and can instantly conjure a treasured or tense memory, recall the smell of their heads or their gym socks, find a strand of worry for them though they are 43 and living happily in Cincinnati.
This is what God is like with us, her babies. We may sometimes feel that God has forgotten us, but more often it is we who forget God. The reality is God always has us on her mind. The God who grew us and nourished us with her own body, is ever mindful of the cord that is stretched between us, taut but never broken.
God, lean in and smell my head. Let me find comfort at your breast. I need you, always, even when I pretend otherwise. Amen.
Molly Baskette pastors at First Church Berkeley (CA) UCC. She is the author of several books about church renewal, parenting & faith, and spirituality. You can connect with her by subscribing to her newsletter, Doomsday Dance Party.