While I’m (laptopless) in Florida, I leave you with a couple of things I’ve recently published.
Ministry in the age of online networking (article for my Annual Conference’s website)
“The Birthing of a Mother-God” (essay for “Mama Says” a local publication for mothers, in their edition on mathoerhood and spirituality, re-work of an earlier blog post or two)
Intellectually, academically, and theologically, I will insist to you that God has no gender, that the Divine transcends such finite categories of personhood. In my writing, speaking, preaching, and public prayer, I strive to remove all gendered pronouns and indeed gendered descriptions and images from my god-talk. Still, it is hard to ignore the ingrained images of society and my Roman Catholic upbringing. And private prayer is a different story. In my private prayer life—feminism aside, intellectualism aside, thealogy (that’s the feminine of theology, no kidding) aside—in my private prayer life, God was Father, brother, or lover for the longest time. Maybe it’s a desire to find a strong centering male figure as someone raised largely by a single mother. More likely, it’s the habit of the Lord’s Prayer and years of cultural assumptions that I never got around to challenging. So, for over two decades, my God was a male God.
Until I got pregnant. Motherhood changes everything.
The more I encountered the fear and excitement of creating, the more I found myself praying to a Creator who creates as I do—one who does not mold creatures from clay, but births them from the mystical depths of Herself. The more I felt the physical pain of pregnancy and anticipated the physical pain of labor, the more I prayed to a god who would know such pain. You can keep the suffering Christ; I don’t need someone who’s experienced the agony of crucifixion, but One who has endured the agony of transition. The more I prayed about what I was experiencing—all that I was experiencing physically and mentally and spiritually—the more I wanted a Mother. When my birthing did not go at all according to my plan, but was instead an emergency c-section under general anesthesia, I mourned the loss of the birthing experience with a Mother who must know what it is like to have the act of creation be so difficult and unpredictable.
Throughout my pregnancy and my first few weeks as a mother, I found myself crying out to Mama, and not meaning the human mother I have known and loved so long (although I desperately wanted her by my side as well!), but the Divine Mother, who created us pained, nervous, creating, jubilant mothers, all in Her image.
Later, in the quiet moments nursing my daughter, I marveled at God’s love that, like mine, must be so vast it sometimes hurts, so uplifting I could lose myself in it. When I cried tears of joy or frustration at my daughter’s antics, I imagined Our Mother shaking her metaphorical head with amusement or sadness as we make the same, foolish, childish, human choices over and over. When my daughter runs into my arms, seeking comfort and caress seconds after screaming “I no like you; leave me alone!” (she’s almost four, can you tell?), I know for certain that God’s heart breaks and mends a million times when one of Her children runs to Her. Even now, in the pain and frustration of more than a year of failed attempts to conceive a second child, I believe I can hear God sighing, whispering that parenthood is never easy, never without struggle and sacrifice and frustration and tears, never to be taken for granted. She should know.
In short, as I made and make this transition, as I continue to become a mother, God for me becomes one too.