Sunday, May 14, 2017

Mother's Day

On the eve of Mother's Day, I find my self standing in line at a cookie store next to a young mother I don't recognize, until she calls out my name.

"Megan!" She is visibly pregnant, and I learn that in three days she will be giving birth to twin daughters.

A lump in my chest forms every time I think of her. I am overwhelmed for her.

On this sacred day set aside to honor mothers, she has become my poster-child for everything this day embodies.

I see her, the discomfort her enlarged stomach testifies of, her willingness, even joy to bring forth--children. It's a brave thing to ride the motherhood train clear to the end when there are so many stops along the way.

Without mothers, there would be nothing. Literally. Life would stop.

Hence, it somewhat puzzles me that missing from the Christian narrative is the story of Mother.

I truly believe without a Heavenly Mother, there would be nothing.

Life on earth follows the pattern of God's glory. The ideal Christian life is composed of a father, mother, and children, brought together by the sanctity of God, or Father in Heaven. We live this life in preparation for eternal life where we are promised the joy of eternal family and associations.

Heavenly Mother cannot, absolutely cannot, be missing from the heavenly family equation written in our hearts, practiced on earth, life perpetual impossible without that mother.

~~It is on earth as it is in heaven.~~

~~Neither is the man without the woman, neither the woman without the man, in the Lord.~~

My own religion acknowledges her existence no more profoundly than in a hymn we sing with regularity. Eliza R Snow wrote 173 years ago: In the heavens, are parents single? No, the thought makes reason stare; truth is reason--truth eternal, tells me I've a mother there.

Yet, why is she seemingly absent from the Christian narrative?

Traveling as a teenager, in yet another long airport layover, I met a travel-seasoned American man who worked in Saudi Arabia. He opened his passport like a magician and a tumble of extended pages rolled out, each page stamped with countries of admittance.  Having recently earned my own driver's license before leaving the states, I asked him why women couldn't drive in Saudi Arabia.

His response was genuine. "The Saudis so revere their women that they cannot allow them to drive. What if they got into a car accident? What if they had to go to court? Saudi women are above such reproach."

His statement has stayed with me for forty years, yet it is not a complete answer. There has to be more of an answer than a comparable practice in the culture of an Islamic society.

The images that clarify the possibilities come from the memories of my own experiences.

I sit behind the child we are helping learn to walk. My hands are firmly planted around her waist, until she is ready to venture out. She takes her first step. My grip loosens. She takes her second; my hands slip away. She takes two steps forward. I am right behind her waiting to soften her fall.

I am behind the child on the bike without training wheels. We just unscrewed them and walked the bike to the open road. She sits on the seat-it wobbles, but I am behind her steadying, keeping her balanced. I am there. I push her off, let go-- she's riding the bike--if only for two seconds, so I am right there to steady her way...again, and again. Always behind, always ready. She will only see me if she stops to turn around. But she can't look back; it's not in the nature of learning to ride a bike.

My child insists on walking to school alone for the first time. It isn't far, but I can't let her go all alone. So I stay behind, just enough to see her to safety, just enough so she won't know I'm there.

My mother's heart is an inherent part of who I am; it is inherited. I know she is there, behind me, even holding on and guiding me. That she is missing from our prayers, our regular religious discourse, from the paintings of a loving Father in Heaven and his son...her absence leaves a void that tightens my heart with an ache and a longing, but a clear affirmation of her existence.

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