There She Goes
This post originally was on my old website “The Sophia Collective,” and published in 2013. It is about the moment in my life that led me to begin to see Mother God everywhere.
Growing up, my mother had a large poster with all of the different names for God in the Bible. Nowhere on the poster was a name for God that indicated or celebrated the over thirty-to-forty (depending on how you want to count) times that God is referenced in the Hebrew and Christian Scriptures as a woman. All of the sacred names were considered male. We prayed to a male god. Our Bibles and Sunday School texts capitalized all of the personal pronouns when referring to God. He was everywhere, but She was never to be found.
By the time I went to seminary, I had left behind the congregations of my youth where this male god was omniscient and all controlling of the fate of the world and my own actions. I had found my way to a beautiful congregation that carefully sang the Doxology and used “Creator, Son and Holy Ghost” instead. At that time in my life the abuse of my childhood at the hands of my adoptive step-father had me clamping my mouth shut at every utterance of “Our Father, who art in Heaven.” The Lord’s Prayer was sung each Sunday, yet I would not sing a note until “hallowed be thy name.” My church’s inclusive language—a term I did not know of until I began my attendance there—eased my own internal debate about calling God father when that name was loaded with broken promises, deep scars, and night terrors.
Still, I had not seen Mother God.
I had heard passages that referenced God as being “like” a mother, but I knew nothing of God as a mother. (Something my own mother-in-waiting heart even more deeply understands now.) I knew of fathers who screamed, threw things, went away, were silent and raging, who touched you where you did not want to be touched, who took advantage when at your utter weakest, who threatened, who manipulated, who abused. My own real Daddy long dead also was a father who abandoned; I needed to be protected from fathers. What did I know of loving fathers who stayed, cared, kept promises, watched-over, and loved?
What I knew of Mothers—especially given my own loving mother, grandmother and Amazonian Aunts—was love, fidelity, humor, grace, mercy, forgiveness, kindness, compassion, generosity, and love all over again. Oh how my little-girl self needed a god who reflected these values in the same way the women of my life did so exquisitely! Oh how my abused little-girl self needed the protective wing of a god who “as a mother comforts her child, so [she’ll] comfort you.”(1) But this god, this Mother God, was not to be whispered about, talked about, praised, worshiped or revered. She simply did not exist in the religious places or people I knew.
Did not the abuse of my childhood color my view of fathers? Of course it did. Just as there are those unable to ever see a god clothed in the gifts of femininity because of their own experience with mothers. However, by the time I first clearly saw Mother God, I no longer hid from those masculine images of God. My healing journey to reconcile a loving God with my life experiences had led me away from the omniscient god who authors the details of our lives—both the good and the evil—to Immanuel, God with us. God with me in all of those horrific moments of abuse. God with me in all of the transcendent beauty. God with me in the mundane. God with me in the life shattering grief. God with me in the healing. God with me in the living. God with me in the past. God with me in the now. Immanuel gave God back to me whole.
I arrived in Seminary thinking of God as neither male nor female. Just God. A God who is at once good and kind, and a God who reaches towards us with love and mercy. So, in my last fall of school when that wrenching September morning tore at the soul of humanity, I had no feelings of God’s abandonment or authorship in the tragedy. The God I knew intimately rode on airplanes holding all and wrapped loving arms around those on the ground. The God I knew intimately screamed at the young men piloting the planes, saying, “You are not made for this! Turn around! Turn around my son! I love you and created you for good! Turn this plane around!”
For me, it was simply God’s sons who did not listen, not God who did not speak.
On September 12th I went to a theology class I was taking on dissonant voices. Our professor read a prayer she wrote the night before, and for the first time in my life I saw Mother God. In her prayer, Mother God ran frantically back and forth catching her children as they fell. She pushed as many as she could down streets and into secret hideaways. She tended to the ill and brought them help. She commanded those First Responders sending them to her babies left and right, up and down. She knelt beside those dying as her angels came to carry them away. She blotted tears all over the world. She was a giant. She had hair of fire. She looked like each one of us. She was bleeding. She was burnt. She was crying for all of her children—wailing for her babies lost to terror in all its insidious forms.
I do not remember one word of her prayer. I could not tell you that any of what I saw in my heart reflected what she wrote and prayed over us that Wednesday. I only know she spoke of God as a mother. What I saw through her words—in my deepest inner heart—was Mother God as plainly as I can see any other thing. I beheld her. I saw her going back and forth gathering her children up into her fierce and tender embrace. I saw her and was held by her.
All I know is that I cannot stop seeing her…everywhere.
Do you see her?
There she goes.
(1) Isaiah 66:13a. Peterson, Eugene H. (2011-03-11). The Message Numbered Edition Hardback (Kindle Location 36654). Navpress. Kindle Edition.