A theme that deserves attention in an ecological spirituality and which the creation-centered mystics develop is that of the motherhood of God. Hildegard praises “Mother Earth” and Mechtild of Magdeburg says candidly “God is not only fatherly. God is also mother who lifts her loved child from the ground to her knee.” Mechtild sees the connection between panentheism* and maternal images of embracing and surrounding when she writes, “The Trinity is like a mother’s cloak wherein the child finds a home and lays its head on the maternal breast.”
Meister Eckhart frequently images God as mother: he says, “From all eternity God lies on a maternal bed giving birth” and again, “What does God to all day long? God is giving birth.” For Eckhart a theology of the motherhood of God is so essential because it celebrates all persons’ capacities to give birth. Without this side of God being acknowledged, creativity itself is repressed and stifled. Indeed, in patriarchal spiritualties, creativity has not even been a theological category. Whereas in the creation tradition, the imago Dei, or image of God in every person, is precisely the imagination or the capacity of each person for creativity. In Eckhart’s worldview we are all meant to be mothers of God.
No theologian in the West has more thoroughly developed the rich theme of the motherhood of God than has Julian of Norwich. “Just as God is truly our Father,” she writes, “so also is God truly our Mother.” For her the recovery of God as mother is also the recovery of divine wisdom—a theme which also encompasses the idea of cosmic consciousness. For “the deep Wisdom of the Trinity is our Mother. In her we are all enclosed.” She connects divine motherhood with panentheism in an explicit way once again when she says that God is “our true Mother in whom we are endlessly carried and out of whom we will never come.”
The bad news about celebrating the Motherhood of God is that we are also capable of matricide, of killing Mother Earth. This seems to be our modus operandi currently toward the planet. We are busy crucifying the Earth to the extent that we are tolerating her destruction.
Adapted from Matthew Fox, Wrestling With The Prophets, pp. 93-94.
*Panentheism: the theological position that God is inside all things and all things are in God.
Queries for Contemplation
In prayerful meditation, sit with the following questions and invite Spirit to guide your thoughts…
- Is ecology a part of your spirituality?
- If not, how can your spirituality become more ecological?
Recommended Further Reading
In one of his foundational works, Fox engages in substantive discussions with some of history’s greatest mystics, philosophers, and prophets on today’s social and spiritual issues on such challenging topics as Eco-Spirituality, AIDS, homosexuality, spiritual feminism, environmental revolution, Native American spirituality, Christian mysticism, Art and Spirituality, Art as Meditation, Interspirituality, and more.
Banner Image: “The Motherhood of God” by Analise Rigan