"A Stream in the Wilderness"
There is an inherent danger involved in "talking" about "God" - people may actually believe the words they use about "God" are in fact who "God" really is; but of course that's impossible because "God" is beyond words, ideas and explanation. "God" is the great mystery, the universal energy flowing in and through all that "is," unable to be captured by our feeble human analysis.
Yet at the same time human beings need language to communicate our ideas and our experiences - without language we remain isolated from one another.
So when we experience a transcendent presence, a Higher Power, we sing songs and write poems and tell stories about our experience -songs and poems and stories about "God," all of which have been collected over time and placed in books of scripture passed down through the ages.
When we talk about God or sing about God we need language but the language we use is necessarily a language of "metaphor" --language that helps us to get some inkling into our experience of that great mystery- metaphors like "Heavenly Father," "King of Kings," "Supreme Judge."
On this "Mothers' Day" in America, I think about all these many images of "God" that have been used over time. Unfortunately most of the popular metaphors passed down through history are very masculine in tone. Of course this shouldn't be too surprising considering the fact that most historic religions are highly patriarchal - run by men, controlled by men.
But if you look at the stories of the Hebrew and the Christian Bible a bit more closely, you will see that they are replete with female images and motherly metaphors for "God."
Throughout the Bible, "God" is often referred to as a "mother" who cares for her children, feeding them at the breast, intimately present with them especially in times of need. In the Gospels, Jesus refers to himself as a mother hen who broods over her chicks in the nest, keeping them warm and protecting them from predators.
The truth is that I far prefer this more intimate mother imagery than the far rougher and more distant father imagery.
While some people have grown up without the presence of a caring mother, when most people think about a mother, words like "intimate, "tender," "nourishing," and even "fiercely protective" come to mind. When I think about my experiences of "God" these are my images for the Abiding Holy Presence.
So on this "Mothers' Day" I hold up the picture of "God," my Mother, --the universal cosmic presence that tenderly embraces me, my mother earth, the people who have mothered me in my life. On this Mothers' Day I bask in the Holy Presence of the Mother, ever so grateful for her abiding intimacy.
Several years ago, the popular musician, Bobby McFerrin, rewrote the words of Psalm 23 -often called the "Good Shepherd Psalm;" but instead of imagining the shepherd as a man, he reimagined her as a woman abiding with her sheep - a mother. It seems like such an appropriate poem for today:
The Lord is my shepherd. I have all I need.
She makes me lie down in green meadows;
beside the still waters she will lead.
She restores my soul, she rights my wrongs.
She leads me on a path of good things,
and fills my heart with song.
Even though I walk through a dark and dreary land,
there is nothing that can shake me.
She has said she won't forsake me -
I'm in her hand.
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