A Fourth Mother to Honor on Mother’s Day Season 2022

Another mother I wish to speak of this Mother’s Day Season is my own mother who died twenty years ago.  The older I get (now 81) and the more I look back on my own life and work and spiritual journey, the more grateful I become for the strength and inventiveness, the curiosity and life-force, that my mother embodied and passed on to myself and my six siblings (three boys and three girls). 

Family portrait of Beatrice Fox and her children. Used with special permission from Matthew Fox.

So much of it was born of her own intuition and deep thinking as she could only afford to attend one semester of college, but read voraciously and was a continual learner. 

She passed on to the rest of us a love for life and for action—“no child of mine will ever be bored” she would respond when, on a rainy day we complained we were bored.  She saw to it that our family had lots of magazines ranging from Mechanics Illustrated to Boy’s Life to Saturday Evening Post to Time, etc.  She encouraged us to go to museums or art shows, to go canoeing, swimming, hiking, skating or whatever sports were appropriate to the season of the year.  She herself bicycled and played tennis and walked us miles (we had no car for many years) some in the wagon, to swim or attend July 4th fireworks and many other events.

She developed her own conscience and expected us kids to do the same.  Once, when she and I were doing dishes together in my teen years she turned to me and said, “Tim, when you’re grown up, make sure you are a person with opinions.”   

Shortly after my father died, when they were both in their late 70’s, I visited her to inform her that she would be learning soon in the press that the Vatican was going to silence me for a year for “being a feminist theologian and calling God ‘Mother’ and preferring Original Blessing to Original Sin,” etc. 

I began my conversation by asking her what it was like being the mother of a somewhat controversial priest and she replied, “Oh, I walk out of church all the time if the priest says something in his sermon that is really stupid.  Your father and I had an agreement that he would continue in Mass and I would wait outside and there would be no arguments when we drove home.”  

This was the first time I had ever heard that story and I asked, “when was the last time you did this?”  “Oh, just a couple months before your father died,” she said.  “But wasn’t that when you had your hip operation and you were using a walker”?  “Oh, yes it was.  And I banged that walker as loudly as I could as I left, such nonsense that priest was preaching!”

I am grateful for a mom like that on this Mother’s Day who walked her walk of conscience even when she needed a walker to do it.  And made extra and deliberate noise in doing so.  Wouldn’t you be?

Adapted from Matthew Fox, Confessions: The Making of a Post-denominational Priest, pp. 30f., 50-52, 93, 189, 404f.  

And Matthew Fox, Creativity: Where the Human and the Divine Meet, pp. 218-220.

To read a transcript of Matthew Fox’s video teaching, click HERE.

Banner Image: Men carry a Feminist banner at rally. Photo by Samantha Sophia on Unsplash.

Queries for Contemplation

Did you enjoy hearing about my mom?  What stories about your mother arise at this season of Mother’s Day that inspire you and keep you in the game (of life)?

Recommended Reading

Creativity: Where the Divine and Human Meet

Because creativity is the key to both our genius and beauty as a species but also to our capacity for evil, we need to teach creativity and to teach ways of steering this God-like power in directions that promote love of life (biophilia) and not love of death (necrophilia). Pushing well beyond the bounds of conventional Christian doctrine, Fox’s focus on creativity attempts nothing less than to shape a new ethic.
“Matt Fox is a pilgrim who seeks a path into the church of tomorrow.  Countless numbers will be happy to follow his lead.” –Bishop John Shelby Spong, author, Rescuing the Bible from FundamentalismLiving in Sin

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13 thoughts on “A Fourth Mother to Honor on Mother’s Day Season 2022”

  1. Richard Reich-Kuykendall
    Richard Reich-Kuykendall

    Matthew, You ask us today in our Queries for Contemplation: “Did you enjoy hearing about my mom?” My answer to that is “Yes I did. And I’m going to talk about my mother in relation to your mother–and thank you for sharing your personal stories of your family with us.
    You also ask us: “What stories about your mother arise at this season of Mother’s Day that inspire you and keep you in the game (of life)?” Just as you said that your mother could only afford to attend one semester of college, but read voraciously and was a continual learner. So my mother was never able to complete a college education, but she too was a voracious reader–and more than that, she was a keen reader of “the human document” as my CPE* professor used to say. More than that, she was aware of her faults and mistakes, and was therefore very forgiving of the faults and mistakes of others–myself doubly included. And she was able to accept me just as I was unconditionally.
    You say that “she encouraged us to go to museums or art shows, to go canoeing, swimming, hiking, skating” etc. And my mother had me take ballet as a child, had me coached in art at a famous art studio, and then supported the rock bands that my brother and I put together over the years. Thank you for being you, Mom !!!
    *CPE = Clinical Pastoral Education.

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    I loved hearing about your mother, Matthew! She raised you well! It gave me the stimulus to reflect on my relationship with my own mother… thank you.

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    Jeanette Metler

    Mathew, thank you for sharing some of your most intimate moments between you and your mother with all of us. I’ve had the blessing and privelege of a very real and authentic relationship with my Mom, throughout our shared lives. The interesting thing about this long relationship is how it has continued to unfold, evolve and emerge… moving beyond merely a mother – daughter relationship… into a deep friendship… woman to woman… as well as soul to soul… spirit to spirit. At times very raw and real… no pretense… no hiding… a rare kind of open, honest vulnerability… a fullness of acceptance… an unconditional love, beautifully imperfect. We get each other… in ways neither of us have experienced in any other of our relationships. Together, we’ve laughed, cried, argued and forgiven, held each other in a silence that spoke volumes, shared adventures and took space when needed, then returned sharing deep truths revealed in our moments of absence, appreciating each other all the more. I know it will be difficult for me, when her time comes… to let her and all of this go. When I find myself at times, reflecting on this… as if trying to prepare myself for the inevitable, as if this is even possible… I take comfort in the words… “nothing can ever seperate oneself from love, not even death. Love is unfailing, unwavering, steadfast and never-ending. One thing remains… love.”

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    Thank you Matthew and Richard. My mom was the eldest of six children of Polish immigrants. She had to go to work after Grade 8 to help support her younger siblings. She was so gifted that a more prosperous neighbor offered to pay to send her to high school. But that didn’t change the fact that she had to get a job. As a budding artist she won a scholarship for art school, but wasn’t able to accept. Mom developed a deep faith, so much so that she decided to read the Bible from the beginning after the birth of 5 children. But she was so scandalized by the violence and mayhem in portions of the Old Testament that she stopped reading it. She loved the Mass and had a deep prayer life which sustained her through the challenges of life. I never heard her complain. I was at her bedside when she was dying. After waking up from a deep sleep she opened her eyes wide with wonder. She told me that she had had a dream in which she was on a train after a lovely holiday. The conductor announced ‘Kitchener’ and she realized that that was her stop so she prepared to get off the train…. She died shortly afterwards….I imagine her being ‘at home’ in the afterlife.

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    Matthew, thank you for sharing your love and special appreciation for your mother. In spite of the many problems, destructiveness, aggression, and suffering caused (and continue to cause) in our ongoing human history by toxic masculinity/patriarchal societies, we maintain our faith and evolving compassionate Being-becoming of our eternal souls by the inner Presence of our Loving Mother~Father Source and Creative Spirit, especially as exemplified by the many loving, wise, and courageous women and mothers in human history and growing in numbers in our modern times. Hopefully, the Divine Feminine~Cosmic Christ Consciousness will continue growing and manifesting within enough human beings to save Mother Earth and All Her creatures, and to create more just, dignified, and equitable societies — to bring about God’s Sacred Queendom~Kingdom on earth as it is in Heaven….

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    Donna Lindsey

    O Matt, I love your Mother. Thank you for sharing about her.

    I was in the first DMin. class to graduate from The University of Creation Spirituality!
    A most blessed time of feeling at home & growing, exploring, expanding.
    Many Thank You’s to you & all those who shared their richness!

    1. Richard Reich-Kuykendall
      Richard Reich-Kuykendall

      AMEN Donna !!! The University o f Creation Spirituality was truly a most blessed time !!!

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    Dear Matthew, no wonder you have become such a blessing to us, as she was to you. I just love her feistiness and wish I could have seen her banging her walker on the way out of church!

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    I agree with Sue and Lynn. And indeed, your mother passed on her feistiness to you. I have mixed feelings about my mother, not all good; she could be unreasonably critical of my sister’s and my ways of being in the world. However, there are things she passed on to me that are an incredible blessing. She was never about to let society tell her what was right and what was wrong. That was up to her. During my teenage years, she was “the fun mom,” the one my friends always chose as a chaperone. She stayed young in spirit until her 70s. She changed with the times, and was never afraid to “color outside the lines” or “run with scissors.” She made up her own mind, and those around her might as well just live with it. She was creative in everything she did. I have always wished that her own parents had been able to accept her as she was. They were very good, honest, fundamentalist Christians who walked their talk; and I loved them. But they were not able to accept the creative, feisty, out-of-the-box thinker, likely bi-sexual girl they got in her. Had she been able to be who she was born to be, oh she would have been so much happier and been able to be a better mother herself. That being said, she passed on her creativity, imagination, out-of-the-box thinking, non-conformity, and spunkiness, to me; and I am extremely blessed by it.

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