My newspaper article about God as Mother, appears in three Connecticut newspapers today. You can read and share it from the newspaper sites (see here, and here, and here) or read it below without the distracting ads:
On Mother’s Day, Celebrating God as Mother
One of the things I appreciate about Christian Science is the concept of God as Father/Mother. The founder of Christian Science, Mary Baker Eddy, included the idea of God as Mother 150 years ago. It is a mystery to me why so many faith traditions only refer to God as masculine, but I’m grateful to be in a branch of Christianity that has always included the idea of God as Mother.
The first chapter of Genesis clearly states that we are made in God’s image and likeness, both male and female. So it follows if we are reflecting God as God’s image, God must include both male and female qualities as well.
There are other passages in the Bible that support the concept of God as our Mother. In Isaiah (66:13) we read, ‘As one whom his mother comforteth, so will I comfort you.” The “I” here refers to God speaking to us, expressing the care and solicitousness of a Mother’s love.
And I often think of this passage in Deuteronomy, ‘Like the eagle that stirs up its nest, and hovers over its young, God spreads wings to catch you, and carries you on pinions.’ When I need support or reassurance, I imagine myself all tucked up under God’s nurturing wing, nestled closely among all those feathers, feeling cozy and safe.
In her classic book on spirituality, Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures, Mary Baker Eddy interprets the first line of the Lord’s prayer, “Our Father which art in heaven,” as, “Our Father/Mother God, all harmonious.”
Sometimes when I pray the Lord’s Prayer, I pray more with the idea of Our Mother which art in heaven. I’m bowled over with what a different feeling this gives me.
I grew up in a rather happy, functional family. However, my dad was definitely the king of the roost, as the breadwinner and professional superstar. My mother was a creative artist, who sidelined her life to be a homemaker and mother to three daughters, of which I’m the youngest. Also in my close family unit were my dad’s widowed mother, and my mother’s only sister, who was single.
So it was basically my dad and six women. It was a perfect recipe for patriarchy, unwitting as it was. He had no idea of his privilege, but as the youngest of those six women I sure did, and I chafed against it.
When I pray to God as “Our Mother,” the feeling reminds me of all my human mother unselfishly did for us, how she was always there for us, how creative she was, how she’d listen to us, or help us with our projects. She’d take our part in any difficulty.
She had a strong sense of integrity, fairness, and morality. She would clearly expect us to behave properly, while easily forgiving our mistakes. She’d make sure we had what we needed. She was a supporter– not afar off and tacit like my dad, who was the big gun brought in at the celebrations and calamities– but a constant, there all in between.
These more reassuring qualities of fidelity and wholehearted presence are so much more helpful to me as I turn to a metaphor for God, than a more traditional fatherhood context, which for me, is fettered not only with a patriarchal sense, but also with a sense of distance and pre-occupation, which feels therefor less intimate and understanding.
I know not everyone has been blessed with a wonderful human mother, so this may not help all of you, but this trade off of one word is working for me powerfully right now. It feels fresh and encouraging.
So this Mother’s Day, I’m celebrating God as Mother. I’m rejoicing in a whole range of strong but often under appreciated feminine qualities of God like abiding graciousness, gentle approval, attentive faithfulness, perceptive listening, ample flexibility, resplendent loveliness, magnanimous devotion, mild patience, delightful impartiality, warm generosity, and perpetually proficient care.
Indeed, I believe each of us is the divine Mother’s cherished offspring, upheld, provided for, guarded, guided, and governed. I’m all snuggled up into the embrace and unconditional love of that divine Mother-love, which wants the best for everyone, yearns for a genuine relationship with each of us, and will do whatever is necessary to make everything come out just right.
by Polly Castor, a Christian Science Practitioner, and member of First Church of Christ, Scientist, 260 Main Street, Ridgefield, Connecticut 06877. She can be reached at PollyCastor@gmail.com.