God, Our Mother

Jul 10, 2018

Read time: 4 mins

My mom died on Father’s Day, 2018. This is a journal entry I wrote through tears in the waiting room of 8 West in Baptist hospital, a few days before she passed.

A line from a song rang in my head the day Liam was born, "we're all born to broken people, on their most honest day of living". Your parents aren't only your parents, they're humans. With emotions and fears and dreams.

There is a moment, or a series of moments, that make us realize our parents are not just mom and dad, but rather adults just like me. Full blown, hanging on by the seat of their pants, figuring it out as they go adults, just like everybody else.

The switch happened for me in small chunks, over multiple events.

I saw a little piece of it when I went through my divorce. I felt the pain of that loss, and the despair of loneliness it brought, and I realized my mother felt this pain too. If she could make it through, so can I.

I saw another piece of it when I fell in love with my wife Lauren. I felt that joy, that connection to another human on a whole other level. I realized my mother too found this love, and felt this joy.

The last piece of the puzzle was seeing my son born. When I held Liam in my arms for the first time, I felt that indescribable mix of love, excitement, and extreme fear all at once, and I pictured my mother holding me for the first time, and realized my mother once experiences that same mix of feelings.

Mom is facing death with such bravery. She was told this morning she has days to live. They've placed her on a BiPAP breathing machine to conserve her energy until the last traveling child can make it to see her. She wants just a few hours with each of us to say goodbye. To tell us she loves us. To hear her grandchildren laugh.

We have a little red notebook she can write in to communicate with us while on the BiPAP. Most are practical notes, like “can you turn the fan on”. I had to walk out of the room to compose myself when she got Lauren's attention as she was playing with Liam and then wrote, “you’re such a good mother”.

My whole life I've known of God as a Father. An omnipotent being such as God can be difficult to describe, so we use our language the best we can. Following in the footsteps of early Christian's, we've all collectively decided to use the Father metaphor. It works well enough, it helps us connect on an deeper level without having a physical body next to us to talk to.

I recently listened to an episode of The Liturgists podcast where they explored the idea of using Mother as the word to describe God. It felt very odd to me at first but the more I looked at the qualities of God that I might tend to describe as feminine, it seemed to make perfect sense.

There are a few lines from a poem read on that podcast by Allison Woodard:

To be a Mother is to say,

“This is my body, broken for you,”

And, in the next instant, in response to the created’s primal hunger,

“This is my body, take and eat.”

In this time, reflecting over my mother's years on Earth, I'm realizing all of the ways she has represented God for me. She has been an earthly image of Yahweh. The fruits of the spirit shown through her: love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control.

Her unconditional love. Her compassion, her nurturing spirit. Her passion for teaching and sharing.

My relationship with her has also mirrored my path with God. Moving through periods of intimacy and distance, of seeing her fondly and looking at her with disdain. Feeling love and feeling pain, giving love and giving pain.

She's been a light in my life, showing me the many wonderful traits of God, our mother.