During Lent I committed to adding Richard Rohr’s daily meditations to the start of my day. I have found them, on occasions, to be so encouraging and challenging that I have decided not to unsubscribe as was my intention.
This week’s series has ben entitled the Maternal face of God. This has been an interesting series and starts by stating that most of us actually experience unconditional love from our mothers rather than our fathers and so goes on to become the basis for many peoples eventual image of God. The images this week have challenged the reader to acknowledge that we all know and accept that God is beyond gender – and yet maternal language can raise an eye or two.
Personally I can relate to this. Recently I led prayers at Evensong during the sweeps festival and wrote a prayer that started Mother God …. but when I came to reading it in the cathedral evensong setting I dropped the maternal reference out of a concern for upsetting people during a major festival in the town and potentially giving the new dean an inbox of complaints. As I reflect I am concerned by my reluctance and wonder why the language concerns me so!
Rohr writes: ‘Whoever God “is,” is profoundly and essentially what it means to be male and female in perfect balance. We have to find and to trust the feminine face of God and the masculine face of God. Both are true and both are necessary for a full relationship with God. Up to now, we have strongly relied upon the presented masculine images while, in fact, our inner life was more drawn to our mother’s energy. That is much of our religious problem today.’
For some, catholics in particular, I wonder if this necessary maternal face of God has been represented by the person of Mary. It seems it is easier for some Christians to venerate another human being in the shape of Mary rather than it is to acknowledge the maternal within God. I believe in some parts of catholicism that venration of Mary has actually become worship resulting in the persons love for Mary being greater than the love for Jesus.
This may all be new and uncomfortable territory for many … but I am seeing that to understand more of the wonder and mystery of God, we need to pay more attention to the maternal symbolism of God as we take on the truth that God is indeed beyond gender.