God our Mother

In a previous church, every year on Mother’s Day I would lead a worship service based around thinking of God as mother. There are plenty of scriptural references to God as mother: from being the hen gathering us under her wings (Matthew 23), to the image of the weaned child sitting on mother’s lap content in her presence no longer yearning (Psalm 131) a and many others in between. Since having children, the image of God as Mother has taken on more powerful meaning for me, since I know how I love my own children and can better imagine the kind of love God might have for me. So when a friend suggested a podcast by The Liturgists on God our Mother, I went searching for some more mother inspiration. I was not disappointed.

Halfway through the podcast, poet Alison Woodard reads the following, and it needs no further comment from me:

To be a Mother is to suffer;

To travail in the dark,

stretched and torn,

exposed in half-naked humiliation,

subjected to indignities

for the sake of new life.

 

To be a Mother is to say,

“This is my body, broken for you,”

And, in the next instant, in response to the created’s primal hunger,

“This is my body, take and eat.”

 

To be a Mother is to self-empty,

To neither slumber nor sleep,

so attuned You are to cries in the night—

Offering the comfort of Yourself,

and assurances of “I’m here.”

 

To be a Mother is to weep

over the fighting and exclusions and wounds

your children inflict on one another;

To long for reconciliation and brotherly love

and—when all is said and done—

To gather all parties, the offender and the offended,

into the folds of your embrace

and to whisper in their ears

that they are Beloved.

 

To be a mother is to be vulnerable—

To be misunderstood,

Railed against,

Blamed

For the heartaches of the bewildered children

who don’t know where else to cast

the angst they feel

over their own existence

in this perplexing universe

 

To be a mother is to hoist onto your hips those on whom your image is imprinted,

bearing the burden of their weight,

rejoicing in their returned affection,

delighting in their wonder,

bleeding in the presence of their pain.

 

To be a mother is to be accused of sentimentality one moment,

And injustice the next.

To be the Receiver of endless demands,

Absorber of perpetual complaints,

Reckoner of bottomless needs.

 

To be a mother is to be an artist;

A keeper of memories past,

Weaver of stories untold,

Visionary of lives looming ahead.

 

To be a mother is to be the first voice listened to,

And the first disregarded;

To be a Mender of broken creations,

And Comforter of the distraught children

whose hands wrought them.

 

To be a mother is to be a Touchstone

and the Source,

Bestower of names,

Influencer of identities;

Life giver,

Life shaper,

Empath,

Healer,

and

Original Love.

-atw, 9.28.17

Posted by Kelly Dombroski.

Family Hymn

I can’t resist posting a second poem from Aotearoa Psalms — it is still within the copyright (less than 10%), and since the book was published by my grandparents, I’m hoping I wouldn’t be sued anyway (wave and wink to my grandmother).

I need to have this poem on our fridge, or in the bathroom or just painted on the wall of the house somewhere. Here goes:

Family Hymn

While the Angelus breaks the evening air
and prayers wash through cloisters,
Christ makes waves in his bath
and wants to know
if tiger sharks have fur.

While the scholar sits in awe
over an ancient manuscript,
tracking the history of his faith,
Christ nestles against her mother
and tells from a book held upside down,
a story about some clowns
who make rainbows out of icecream.

While the priest at his desk,
somewhere between the front door
and the telephone,
writes another homily on love
and wonders if someone remembered
to repair the lectern microphone,
Christ comes sleepy and a little tearful
into his parents’ bed
and says, as he plants cold feet
on his father’s back
“I love you a big much, Daddy.”

While pilgrims journey
from shrine to shrine
on a long and well-blessed path,
Christ, laughing, takes are parents’ hands
and shows them the short-cut to holiness.

By Joy Cowley, Aotearoa Psalms 10th Ed. 2000

That last line is what sticks in my head — ‘the short-cut to holiness’, because, really, all this shows is that there is no short-cut. It’s in the mess and muddle of everyday life that our spirits are formed and reformed, our bodies offered up as acts of worship as we birth, nurture, organise, argue, sit, hold, cook and cry.

Kelly Dombroski writes at www.throwntogetherness.wordpress.com, among other places. 

Disorientation Psalm

There is a building
I have watched from my fourth floor window
The walls were removed
The steel structures strengthened
As it stood
For two years
Naked.

When will we be finished?

 

 

Kelly Dombroski writes, a lot. Some of it is on www.throwntogetherness.wordpress.com .  This psalm was written during a psalm-writing activity in an all-age activity-filled church service at Ilam Baptist.

Pure WHAT?

Purity seemed, at times, more an absence than anything

~ Purity (noun): The condition or quality of being pure; freedom from anything that debases, contaminates, pollutes.~

They wanted me without sin, without fault,

and emptied

They wanted me without thought, without desire,

Without myself;

a chalice, a vault.

… against this I could only revolt

But over time my focus changed: pure WHAT?

  • Pure love (without fear) …. 1 John 4:18
  • Pure courage (without fear) … Deut 6:1
  • Pure faith (power without conceit) … Eph 3:16-17
  • Pure grace (full, complete)… 2 Cor 12:9

~Pure (adjective): not mixed with anything; complete, absolute.~

This kind of purity I will seek and sow, guard and grow,

Forging and filling

this body with purpose and kindness,

this soul with strength and goodness,

with

~purity: the freedom to overflow.~

SCULPTURE: ‘Water of life’ (Christ and the Samaritan Woman). Chester Cathedral. Artist: Stephen Broadbent. Photo source: http://diglib.library.vanderbilt.edu

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

SUSAN WARDELL is a Social Anthropologist, Mother, Jesus-follower, Tree-hugger, Muffin Afficionado, and Writer. She lives in Dunedin, New Zealand.

What is this awesome mystery…?

What is this awesome mystery
that is taking place within me?
I can find no words to express it;
my poor hand is unable to capture it
in describing the praise and glory that belong
to the One who is above all praise,
and who transcends every word…
My intellect sees what has happened,
but it cannot explain it.
It can see, and wishes to explain,
but can find no word that will suffice;
for what it sees is invisible and entirely formless,
simple, completely uncompounded,
unbounded in its awesome greatness.
What I have seen is the totality recapitulated as one,
received not in essence but by participation.
Just as if you lit a flame from a flame,
it is the whole flame you receive.

Symeon the New Theologian 949-1022

Broken Bodies

Content Warning: mention of eating disorders, mental illness, and sexual assault

They call her a bean pole
With a slender frame like the stick whose strength is used to help bean plants grow
Which contains a sad irony
When she won’t let food touch her
Scared to be tainted by the calories
And they call her bean pole
But she can only see a tree trunk
Layers of herself she wants to shed
And she feels
So broken

They call him a couch potato
Dirtied by the soil of laziness they perceive
Because after a redundancy it’s not hard for him to feel like his life is redundant
But there’s only so many hours he can spend
Scrolling through jobs he doubts he could get
He forgets what it’s like
To feel purpose in a life that seems
So broken

They call her a tart
Sweet, but not good for you
Just her name leaves their mouths with a sour taste
Because in their minds
The difference between feeling whole inside and a gaping hole inside
Is the one letter he took away
It was a silent letter
The “yes” that never left her mouth
Yet he heard it anyway
And now they treat her as being
So broken

They call him nuts
And perhaps it is appropriate – after all
Nuts are the most common food allergy
And sometimes he feels like he’s allergic to himself
With the obsessive compulsion to scrub his hands raw
Trying to cleanse his skin of his mind’s disease
That has become the punchline for pedanticity
His emotional state is as raw as his hands
And his life, like his skin
Feels so broken

And why do we continue to compare ourselves to food?
As if we are less than human
Just there to be consumed
By these overwhelming darknesses
Secretions of ebony inks that swirl
In a jet black haze around us
And sometimes this smog weighs down on us
So thick, so heavy
That the exit lights are invisible
And sometimes it feels like we’re
Just too broken –

 

“The Lord Jesus, on the night he was betrayed, took bread,

and when he had given thanks, he broke it and said,

‘This is my body, which is for you; do this in remembrance of me.’

In the same way, after supper he took the cup, saying,

‘This cup is the new covenant in my blood;

do this, whenever you drink it, in remembrance of me’

For whenever you eat this bread and drink this cup, you proclaim the Lord’s death until he comes.”

1 Corinthians 11:23b-26

 

And this, perhaps this is the food metaphor to end all food metaphors
Because this one
Broken body
Gives us hope that
We can be restored.

Emily is too tired to write a bio so here is a link to her blog: https://emilyontheinternetblog.wordpress.com/ 

Feature Image by nickelbabe; accessed via Pixabay 

The Letter W

God is like the letter W.

She fills the hole inside us and makes us whole,
sometimes silently,
and when we listen, we can’t hear the difference.

But when we look, the smallest change gives a new meaning to the word
and The Word becomes part of a sentence
and the sentence becomes the story of our life.

“God,” I asked. “Are you sure you’re in the story?
Sometimes I just can’t see you
in the chapters
in the pages.”

“Emily,” She responds. “I am the one writing it.
And in every character I create, I add a little bit of myself.

Just like you do.”

Then God said, ‘Let us make human beings in our image, to be like us.’

 – Genesis 1:26a

 

Emily is a student, writer, and creative soul from Auckland, New Zealand. She blogs fortnightly at emilyontheinternetblog.wordpress.com 

Image: ‘W’ by Wee Sen Goh. Accessed via Flickr.

Song of Songs

 

What can I give you?

My garden and the

shaft to my gold mine.

 

What can you give me?

Send your dove to se-

ttle on my navel.

 

Sharpen your sword and

pour your anointing

oils over me.

 

Prepare to bed your-

self in my garden. Solid-

ify my inners.

 

I lay my cheeks and

my garments as pools

around my ankles.

 

Our our our our our

skin lain to warm skin.

Our our our our ours.

 


Amy Harris


 

Whorling

 

Right now I feel saucy, sacred and sensual.

It’s not right in my bones but hanging above the surface. It hovers and glides.

My energy is evident in the sensuality.

Time snuffles it,

time indoors.

The electric lights buzz and sizzle it down to the final caramelised sugar starting to burn in the bottom of the pan. It becomes hard, too hard,

impenetrable

unscrappable

stuck there inevitably.

The sacredness of my body lies in the flesh,

the living tissue mass that swathes my bones.

It wraps around and around, the holy spiral embodied in a whirling dervish.

This is the reason I am beautiful.

My heart swirls

its form looping

its joy swooping.

My heart is big

and generous

and outpouring

and overflowing

and running off before I can catch it, tipping fresh syrup onto passers-by,

those passers-by who are my punters calling for more visions, more sights to behold.

I allow them a moment of witnessing my spirit dance its circular ritual around

and over

and around

and throughout

and within

and across into their inner iris of image, the stage on which they dance a reciprocal ritual for their heart.

Finally, my spiral calls for rest and it loops back down my length to soak my tissue again.

This energy hangs about the surface of my bones. It hovers and glides and then my whole being breathes out.

 

Amy Harris


amykharris.co.uk