A Blessed Mother’s Day to all Mothers, Grandmothers, Mothers to be! And all artists and birthers and co-creators who are also mothers in their fashion. (I think that covers all of us.)
I would like to salute four women who offer us needed insight about motherhood at this fraught time in human and planetary history.
First, is Julian of Norwich who lived through the bubonic plague of the 14th century and very likely lost her husband and child due to that pandemic that killed between one of two and one of three persons. Yesterday’s news informed us that our current plague has currently killed 15 million humans around the world, over one million in the US. It has also disrupted our lives profoundly from schooling to hospital care to the economy (spiking inflation and unemployment and much more). Which in turn feeds political unrest.
Julian taught us that “God is delighted to be our Mother” and that “Christ is Mother” and that the essence of motherhood is compassion. In this way, we are all called to be God-like and practice compassion in that most “nearest, readiest and surest” way that mothers do. Julian is a leader in deconstructing patriarchy that has taken over western religion and education, law, business and economics over the seven centuries since her time.
Second, is Sister Dorothy Stang (“Sister Dot” for those who knew her), born in Ohio and buried in Brazil. Sister Dot was a champion of Mother Earth, indeed she deserves to be a patron saint for all those defending Mother Earth. She spent 42 years serving her and the peasant peoples of the Amazon region in Brazil. She set up schools, worked to empower the farmers and families, women and men, of the rainforest that was so under attack by giant conglomerates committed to destroying the forest. Sister Dot was gunned down one day while walking alone down a dirt path by three gunmen who ambushed her and left her 72 year old body lying in the dirt and her own blood. Before they gunned her down she had just enough time to reach into her backpack and pull out her Bible and start reading the Beatitudes to her killers.
At her funeral, a peasant farmer got up and declared, “Sister Dorothy, we are not burying you, we are planting you.” She is one of tens of thousands of martyrs in Latin America in our lifetimes who stood up to defend the poor and those without power including the rainforest itself from human and corporate exploitation in South America. She reminds us that there is a price to pay for loving Mother Earth in times like ours. That generosity matters.
To be continued.
See Matthew Fox, Julian of Norwich: Wisdom in a Time of Pandemic—and Beyond, pp. 45-58, 102f.
And Matthew Fox, Confessions: The Making of a Post-denominational Priest, pp. 341-343, 443, 448.
To read a transcript of Matthew Fox’s video teaching, click HERE.
Banner Image: Photo of DMMF Team Member, Rev. Jerry Maynard and his mother. Photo used with permission.
Queries for Contemplation
What is Julian saying to you this Mother’s Day? What is Sister Dot saying to you also?
Julian of Norwich: Wisdom in a Time of Pandemic–and Beyond
Julian of Norwich lived through the dreadful bubonic plague that killed close to 50% of Europeans. Being an anchoress, she ‘sheltered in place’ and developed a deep wisdom that she shared in her book, Showings, which was the first book in English by a woman. A theologian way ahead of her time, Julian develops a feminist understanding of God as mother at the heart of nature’s goodness. Fox shares her teachings in this powerful and timely and inspiring book.
“What an utterly magnificent book. The work of Julian of Norwich, lovingly supported by the genius of Matthew Fox, is a roadmap into the heart of the eco-spiritual truth that all life breathes together.” –Caroline Myss
Now also available as an audiobook HERE.