Mother Lord

That’s my new term of endearment for God.

In my recent meditations on the writings of Julian of Norwich, I have relished her prolonged contemplation of Jesus as our Mother: how he gives birth to us twice, in creation and on the cross, and how he tends us day by day.

Who describes Jesus’s mothering of us better than Julian? My botanical illustration is of serviceberries on a tree near my home.

Julian’s trinitarian theology is clear and sound: the three Persons are One, and what is done by any of them is done by the one God. What one Person is, all three are together. Thus in other places she writes that God is both Father and Mother.

To my sorrow, I remember as a young adult scoffing along with a friend who had visited a “liberal” church where prayers were often addressed to “Father-Mother God.” Now I think such forms of address are true and rich, fully consonant with scripture and various strains of Christian tradition.

In my own prayer life I have tended in the past couple of decades to opt for “God”—usually “dear God”—as a gender-neutral term of address. But I’ve been longing for something warmer, a phrase that expresses more of who God is to me, to us.

Daneen Akers makes an excellent case for switching to “Mother God” and ditching the male terms and pronouns altogether. Of course she’s not the only advocate for this; on the page I’ve linked, you can download a helpful PDF she put together quoting other thoughtful Jesus followers who have made this change.

Somehow my heart has been wanting a term that clashes a little more, calling attention to itself, yet one that could come to feel natural on my tongue. This past weekend I hit upon “Mother Lord,” and it feels just right. Lord has a feudal feel, but it’s what the biblical translators continue to use, and its Aramaic equivalent was what the first disciples called Jesus most often. I like retaining this familiar title because it conveys honor and trust and glory. And I have used it all my life.

As a child I called my mother Mommy, and as a teen I switched to Mom. Mother feels different, larger. It speaks of intimacy and belovedness, respect and dignity. Our Lord is Mother to me and to my mother and father, to all generations of humankind. She is our Source, giving us life, tending us, challenging us, calling us home.

“Mother Lord” makes me chuckle a little, and it seems to hold my whole ongoing journey to know God more.

Giving God names that reflect our awe and affection is a very scriptural thing to do. Have you come up with a special name for God? I would love to read it.

Draw Deep from The Well

Today The Well, an InterVarsity Christian Fellowship publication for women in the academy & professions, published a poetry essay they’d solicited from me. The editors plan to feature poems by women throughout the summer, as an invitation to slow down & be nourished, & I had the privilege of orienting readers to a process of entering poems contemplatively–that is, approaching them with the same quiet openness they might bring to scripture reading.

My title, “A Quiet Fire,” was inspired by a poem by Luci Shaw that I link at the end of the essay. I also excerpt from poems by Lucille Clifton, Renny Golden, Mary Oliver, & Raúl Zurita to model a simple, openhearted way of approaching poetry.

I guess fire & well together make a very mixed metaphor. But I’ll just go with it. May you find refreshment in poetry & other art this summer, & may it fill you & fuel you.

I don’t seem to have a photo of a well, but . . .

Bahía Portete, La Guajira, Colombia.