Sunday, May 13, 2012

2012.05.13 Mama Mía

I get tired of Mother’s Day with all its Hallmark regalia. On the other hand it’s possible I will suck my thumb if one of my four beautiful adult children forgets.  (All remembered.)

But......since we have this designated day; and since I think mothers, biological and spiritual, are among the most noble and honored of creatures (men can mother, too); and since it’s Sunday and the readings and today’s liturgical prayers were more filled than usual with Father, heavenly Father, Lord and Father, etc. I honor Mother God with HAPPY MOTHER’S DAY.

Recently on Jeopardy the clue in the category of Ancient History was something like: The most famous couple. The answer that shot from my mouth was: Who were Adam and Eve?  Of course I was wrong and I don’t even remember what was correct. Antony & Cleo maybe?

But it got me thinking about Eve. Her name in Hebrew is Havva/Life-Giver. She is the “mother of all the living,” according to Everett Fox’s translation of Genesis.  A first mama.

It’s hard to be a “first” anything, even if you’re a myth. I remember Episcopal Suffragan Bishop Barbara C.  Harris —first woman bishop and first African American woman bishop, a double first —saying it was a heavy responsibility: very hard to be an  icon (an image of holiness) to some and an iconoclast (a person who attacks cherished institutions and beliefs) to others.

(The icon/iconoclast description sounds like something any mother-loving/mother-hating teen would write: I need you. Go away!)

Eve/Havva would agree with Barbara Harris.  Eve, for some women, is a mythic icon for a bold woman with courage to reach out, break a sacred “rule,” use her precious God-given gift of freedom to get out of paradise (too boring, no?) and live life to the full, all its joys and sorrows, sins and glories.  Eve, for some others, is an iconoclast:women are supposed to follow, not lead. For her offenses she had been earned the undeserved identity as the author of death and sin, and the cause of all the world’s worst patriarchal problems. If it weren’t for her........   All this over an ersatz apple? 

The story is a familiar one: Eve took all the blame while Adam, who himself ate with gusto of the forbidden fruit, nodded, peach juice dripping down his chin, pointed a finger, and tried to hide.

To the men in my life, sons and stepsons, friends and husbands,  I say, thanks for not following the pattern. To Dad I say thanks for having honored your three daughters with grace—and a little resistance, most of it about the cost of women’s clothes.

Mothers nurture, protect and care, and mothers make mistakes.  God is a mother, a birther of the universe who like a womb surrounds Creation with love and grace and buoyancy, like water does a swimmer.   The 14th century mystic Julian of Norwich calls Jesus, “our beloved mother who feeds us with his own body and blood.”  We all have a mothering spirit in us.

Who mothers you?