The patriarchal tradition has ignored the implications of God’s motherly side and of our responsibility to develop the mother in ourselves, whether we are women or men. If Eckhart is correct when he declares that “We are all meant to be mothers of God,” then it follows that we are all meant to be mothers. There is a potential mother, as Rabbi Abraham Heschel insists, in each and every person. After all, does birth happen from a single parent? Every artist–and this means every person made in the image and likeness of God–is called to mother. As Jung put it, creativity arises “from the realm of the mothers.”
The feminist movement and with it the creation-centered spiritual tradition have celebrated and retrieved the nonliteral meaning of motherhood. Erica Jong defines feminism as empathy and “developing the nurturing qualities of women and of men” and credits poet Adrienne Rich with awakening our consciousness to the question, “What is nurturing? What would it mean to live in a nurturing society, one where even men nurtured self, one another, and others?”*
Surely it would mean from a theological point of view the recovery of the tradition of God as Mother. The tradition of the motherhood of God is rich not only in Western sources but also in the matrifocal religions of the Native American traditions and indeed wherever religion preceded patriarchy. Frederick Turner, for example, celebrates the depths of the “aboriginal mother love” which he finds in Native American religion.
The motherhood of God is celebrated wherever panentheism** is celebrated, wherever images of roundness and encircling take precedence over linear imaging. Hildegard says, “Divinity is like a wheel, a circle, a whole.” Julian of Norwich’s image of “a mother’s cloak” is deeply maternal. Julian frequently uses the image of being enclosed, as when she says, “The deep wisdom of the Trinity is our Mother, in whom we are enclosed.” Eckhart too, is arousing in us a maternal symbol of panenthesim and enclosure. Julian writes, “God is the true Father and Mother of Nature and all natures that are made to flow out of God to work the divine will, will be restored and brought again into God.”
*Erika Jong, “Visionary Anger,” in Barbara Charlesworth Gelpi and Albert Gelpi, Adrienne Rich’s Poetry (NY: W.W. Norton & Co., 1975), 172.
**Panentheism is the theological position that God is inside us and we are inside God.
Adapted from Matthew Fox, Original Blessing, pp.222-223
Lectio Divina, or “Divine Reading,” is the ancient practice of meditatively and prayerfully reading the words of Scripture or other sacred texts, asking Spirit what your proper response might be to the truths they lay bare.
In this spirit, take a phrase or word from this meditation and be still with it, letting it wash over you and through and through you. Repeat it as a mantra. Be with the silence that follows. Be with, be with
Original Blessing: A Primer in Creation Spirituality
In this book Matthew Fox lays out a whole new direction for Christianity—a direction that is in fact very ancient and very grounded in Jewish thinking (the fact that Jesus was a Jew is often neglected by Christian theology). Here Fox lays out the Four Paths of Creation Spirituality, the Vias Positiva, Negativa, Creativa and Transformativa in an extended and deeply developed way.