United Church of Christ

Into the Mystic: How My Mother Reminds Me of God

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We’ve been stuck for some time in a world where our images of God reinforce a bias towards men.

That isn’t healthy. My theological horizons expanded exponentially when I began to imagine God as woman. The myth that God is male, and the enforced limitations that restrict our imaginations when it comes to expressing more fully the range of theological choices perpetuates patriarchy, subordinates the role of women, and instantiates the pedagogy of male dominance.

Because we have been conditioned to think that God is a man, we deprive communities of faith an experience with other dimensions of the divine that would more fully enrich their spiritual explorations.

In order to do this, we have to suppress sacred texts about and authentic encounters with the feminine aspect of God.

One of the ways I am helped to break through these barriers is to think about my Mom.

There are things I have learned from and experienced with her that I find easy to attribute to the Sacred.

Since we often refer to God as Father, and since encounters with my own Dad helped me to make certain assumptions about how God operates, it wasn’t hard for me – once I began to expand my own theological horizons – to attribute to God the behaviors and emotions and attributes of my mother. Everyone’s experiences with parents are different, so I don’t want to universalize this. I merely suggest that there are women, as well as men, whose traits can serve to teach us something important about God. For me, one of those was my mother.

Mom always told us she had only one goal as a mother, and that was that her children knew that no matter where we were in life or what we had done or how bad things had gotten, the door to her home and her heart were always open. When and if no one else would do so, she would set a place at the table for us. Now, its one thing to hear a mother say that – its something else to experience her love in a way that you never doubted that.

There are sacred texts that tell us that God is like that.

One who loves unconditionally, without reserve, and with a limitless capacity to welcome us back even after our choices have damaged the relationship. Knowing the love of my mother has offered has helped me a deeper understanding of my relationship with the Creator.

I was the second of seven children, and so throughout my entire childhood and early adolescence I saw Mom care for her babies. The tenderness with which she held them, fed them, cleaned them, nursed them to health, bound up their wounds, smiled at them seemed just so natural and so beautiful. Witnessing that all those years made thinking of the nurturing, tender heart of God natural to me.

In our house, it was Mom who prepared and cooked our meals. Every night, nine of us sat around a table that was filled with what took her hours to prepare. We would come home from school and she would already have begun preparations for that evening’s meal. She took great pride in serving meals that were healthy, filling, and delicious. She also kept the house clean, our clothes clean, and learned to make ends meet with the money Dad was able to bring home. The level of care she showed, and the hard work and long hours that went into the simple, daily tasks that kept the house running and the family fed and clothed was nothing short of remarkable.

Hearing about how God cares for even the lilies of the field and watches over the birds of the field struck me as a particularly motherly way of relating to Her children.

Encountering the sacred, one who tells us They created us male and female in Their image, should not be limited to what men teach us. The fullness of divine possibility and love expands greatly when we demythologize patriarchy. Thanks Mom. Your love has grounded me and taught me more about God than I would otherwise have known. That has served my greatly on this, my journey Into the Mystic.


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