The title of this blog was inspired by a line from a new favorite hymn of mine, one that our church started singing during Ordinary Time last year. Hearing feminine imagery for the Divine always delights me, a long drink after a long thirst. So this song immediately became a favorite, and F and I often found ourselves singing it on the way home. (We long ago decided that the highest respect we could pay to a church song was to sing it after Mass to our beagle, dancing around the kitchen. Don’t ask; this is our twisted sense of humor.)
So the words of “Fresh As The Morning” wove their way into our days: “still you empower us, Mothering Spirit”…”chosen as partners, midwives of justice.” When I was pregnant, these words held a particular power for me. The image of God as a Mothering Spirit resonated with the pulsing, kicking, creative, embodied unfolding of carrying a child, beginning the journey of becoming a mother. I reflected often during those nine months of what it would mean for my life and my identity to mother, and the idea that God mothers us both comforted and strengthened me. A Mothering Spirit would be what would sustain me; a mothering spirit was what I could become.
Since the birth of my son, I have tried daily to keep in mind what it means to be a mothering spirit. It is not some New Agey domestic goddess meditating serenely with the glow of motherhood; it is not an uber-balanced, spiritually in-tune incarnation of feminine ideals. To me, a mothering spirit means that I try to weave together my budding life as a mother with my budding work as a theologian, that I try to see my vocations as one blended call to live faithfully and strive to follow Christ’s Way in all that I do. The idea of a mothering spirit reminds me that God resides within me and that I can summon up the strength and courage of the divine light within when I am faced with the daily challenges of mothering, working, living, loving.
A mothering spirit reminds me of the interconnectedness of life – that I was born of a mother and blessed with a bounty of strong women, both family and friends, to journey with me. I am connected to mothers all over the world who are walking this same path, of late nights and early mornings, worries and wonders, fears and frustrations, tears and small triumphs.
A mothering spirit reminds me to breathe, to take the struggles in stride, to know that the days are long but not endless, to realize that the learning curve is steep but not insurmountable.
A mothering spirit helps me to quiet my restless heart, to find the peace that calmly waits in Here and Now, to delight in the child before me as he is, to understand that enough is enough, all that I can give.
A mothering spirit is what speaks to me in the impatient moments, the flare-ups of an Irish temper, the exasperations of a first-time parent. God’s Mothering Spirit speaks to my mothering spirit in those moments, quietly, with a beckoning hand and a forgiving heart. There is no perfection to be found, this Mothering Spirit reminds me. There is only faithfulness to be tried again, and again.
So a mothering spirit is what I try to be. In my brighter moments, I can let this truth shine and let God live through me. In my darker moments, I cling to the memory that there must be some strength, within or without, that can help me through this day.
A mothering spirit is real, evolving, honest, challenging, empowering. A mothering spirit is my mantra and my prayer – for my own mother, for the mothers in my life, for Mary’s mothering love that holds us all close, for the women who yearn to be mothers, for the mothers who struggle.
Lord, my heart is not proud, nor are my eyes haughty.
I do not busy myself with great matters, with things too sublime for me.
Rather, I have stilled my soul, hushed it like a weaned child.
Like a weaned child on its mother’s lap, so is my soul within me.
Israel, hope in the Lord, now and forever.