Midweek Faith Lift
May 13, 2020
Nativity-A Cosmic Mother’s Day
Rev Deb Hill-Davis
Today we celebrate Mother’s Day from both a Cosmic Birthing perspective and the very intimate notion of Trinity. We are all in this liminal space giving birth to a new reality, a new consciousness. From the moment a woman knows she is pregnant, her body is no longer just hers. She is in relationship with the child she carries and in a relationship with the very generation of life, a deeply spiritual/human process. That relationship begins long before the new baby enters the world. We idealize motherhood and put women on a “mother-pedestal” which is neither fair nor realistic. When women have babies, they don’t become saints, they just become mothers who pray like mad that they will do the job of parenting with grace, patience and most of all love and wisdom.
I like to think of the words of the poet, Kahlil Gibran: “Your children are not your children, they come through you, but they are not of you. They are life’s longing for itself….” So on this Mother’s Day 2020, we remember that we all came into this world through our mothers and that we are life’s longing for itself. When we remember this, what does it mean for us in these strange times of pandemic, of change, of loss and of liminal space that we talked about last Sunday? How are we life’s longing for itself?
Through modern history we have put so much focus on mothers as being fully responsible for bearing and raising children and then early 20th century psychology blamed mothers if things did not go well. Oy! It is only in recent history that fathers have been allowed into the birthing process, to be an integral partner in the birth and parenting of their children and to be equally invested and responsible for raising their children. It is a welcome change of recognition that we live in relationship, that we are interconnected at a deeply spiritual level. When two people become parents, it creates a trinity, a very spiritual number that suggests the presence of God, the presence of new life.
The idea of trinity is archetypal and a much larger context for this notion of family, of interconnection. As we struggle with all the joys and frustrations of family life, we can easily miss that larger perspective. Within the context of historical Christianity we have certainly missed it. It was in a blog post from Fr. Richard Rohr on May 5, 2020 that I gained new insight into the larger and deeper understanding of the Holy Trinity. This is what he said:
A divine foundation of relationship is what all religion, spirituality, and perhaps even politics, is aiming for. The Trinity offers us this precise gift—a grounded connection with God, self, others, and the world. This ancient doctrine dared to affirm that God is relationship itself. The way of Jesus therefore is an invitation to a way of living, loving, and relating—on earth as it is in God. We are intrinsically like the Trinity, living in absolute relatedness. While we may not always recognize it, we are all together in a web of mutual interdependence. When we recognize it on a spiritual level, we call it love.
The 12th-century mystic Richard of St. Victor (1123–1173) wrote about the Trinity as a mutual, loving companionship of friends—a community, if you will. In my book The Divine Dance, I summarized some of his thinking: For God to be good, God can be one. For God to be loving, God has to be two, because love is always a relationship. But for God to share “excellent joy” and “delight” God has to be three, because supreme happiness is when two persons share their common delight in a third something—together.  All we need to do is witness a couple after the birth of their new baby, and we know this is true.
Whether or not we birthed children, creating the trinity of a new family, we all were a part of a family as we came into this world. How is it that we, that each one of us is a part of this ongoing cosmic process of relationship and interconnectivity, this ongoing Nativity or birthing process? Every year at Christmas, the Christian tradition makes a huge deal of the birth of Jesus and of Mary as the mother of the Christ Child. When we contemplate the Cosmic meaning of Nativity, of the Birth of the Christ more than 2 millennia ago, what does it mean to us today, in the new millennium and the 21st century?
We sit with a lot of questions today about mothering and birthing because we are all birthing a new reality, we are all as Matthew Fox says in Stations of the Cosmic Christ, “…. meant to be “mothers of God,” as Meister Eckhart said? Are we all meant to birth the “Prince of Peace” in ourselves and in our cultures--- a great Light in the darkness of poverty and antagonism, of greed and war and racism?” p. 67, Stations of the Cosmic Christ. And I would add, pandemic illness?
He continues: “If we are all “mothers of God,” Mary does not stand alone…first among equals. What an announcement: the gift of our being midwives, channels, agents, even mothers of the Divine…..What an exalted role for humans, to gather the “mind of the universe,” the Creating all, into human form and human history.” P. 67, Stations of the Cosmic Christ.
And indeed it is an exalted role, just as parenting a human child is an exalted role that pulls the parents and child into a holy trinity where Divine Love finds expression in creation of a new being. At the time of your birth, you were the same holy potential as Jesus, the Christ. We as living human beings are a part of that Divine Love creating and expressing itself into manifestation in this Universe of which we are an important part. It matters that we are here now, in this time.
The sad reality is that in our human history, in the history of Christianity, we have not focused on that, not in the most healthy and spiritual way possible. We have struggled to overcome the belief that we are inherently and deeply flawed, the legacy of the idea of being born with “Original Sin.” Other cultures and religions do not share this belief. We, in the west, have not kept in the forefront of our consciousness how deeply connected, both physically and spiritually, we to each other and to all that is alive in this universe. We have lost our connection to that which is greater than us, that which is transcendent, that which knits us all together.
When we say in this new, COVID-19 reality, “we are all in this together” it is not for the sake of camaraderie or to build solidarity in cooperating to help one another through this experience. It is a statement that recognizes Truth. We are invited to realize how we are together and reflect on how we show up in this time of connectivity, even as we may not want it or we want to ignore it. What I do matters to your safety and health, now more than ever. That has always been true, but what is true now is that it is impossible to ignore it. There is no power that will stop it without our cooperation and bending to that reality. It is a bit like the movie “Ground Hog Day” in which Bill Murray is unable to escape repeating his horrible day until he awakens to his part in it and learns to care more for others than himself.
That was the message of Jesus in Matthew 25:40 & 45:
40 And the king will answer them, ‘Truly I tell you, just as you did it to one of the least of these … you did it to me.’ 45 Then he will answer them, ‘Truly I tell you, just as you did not do it to one of the least of these, you did not do it to me.’
And the “it” here as we all know is to clothe, feed, and care for one another. This is a powerful statement of how, in our humanness we are so very connected and called to care tenderly for one another. It is the call of love and it will be answered. If it is not, there are consequences, which we cannot escape and COVID-19 teaches us that every day. We are all responsible for birthing the deepened awareness of how interconnected we are.
Matthew Fox says it this way in Stations of the Cosmic Christ:
The Nativity stretches our imaginations like nothing before. How can the wisdom of a universe 13.8 billion years old and hundreds of billions of galaxies vast pour itself into human form, not once but countless times? Why would it do so? There must be a great attraction involved here, a great love. A sensitive awareness of a deep need on the part of humans to get their act together finally, to be the agents of grace and compassion, of healing and wondrous beauty. p. 67.
We are the birthers and the birthed. How do we show up as mothers of the Divine, as agents of grace, compassion, healing and wondrous beauty?
I will leave you today with the full poem “On Children” by Kahlil Gibran:
~Kahlil Gibran-from The Prophet
And a woman who held a babe against her bosom said, Speak to us of Children.
And he said:
Your children are not your children.
They are the sons and daughters of Life’s longing for itself.
They come through you but not from you,
And though they are with you yet they belong not to you.
You may give them your love but not your thoughts,
For they have their own thoughts.
You may house their bodies but not their souls,
For their souls dwell in the house of tomorrow,
which you cannot visit, not even in your dreams.
You may strive to be like them, but seek not to make them like you.
For life goes not backward nor tarries with yesterday.
You are the bows from which your children as living arrows are sent forth.
The archer sees the mark upon the path of the infinite,
He bends you with His might that His arrows may go swift and far.
Let your bending in the archer’s hand be for gladness;
For even as He loves the arrow that flies,
so He loves also the bow that is stable.
Blessings on the Path,
Following is a list of those who sent me their mom’s name or someone who also mothered them:
Barb McKelvey- Eline Wills, Delores House and Jenny Craig
Donna Nelson- Evelyn
Elza McGaffin- Linda McGaffin, Kel Munger
Arielle Bradway- Valeree Bradway
Sally Hanna- Helen Hanna Wilson
Nancy Evans- Rachel Jacobsen Evans
Jim Trenberth- Cornelia Helen Palmer
Mary Cochran- Evelyn Cochran
Heather Withers-Sylvia Nowell Dormer
Diana Claus- Millie Swanson
Larry Claus- Ferne Claus
Shelley DeHart- Edna DeHart, Barb McKelvey, Karen Keech
Lin Hedberg- Violet Hope Cline Hedberg
Jennifer Albaugh- Jan Swanson
Sherry Bradley-Mary Moffatt Young
Susan Wolfe- Lois Clair Newton
Clark Ford- Mary Ford
Claire Uldrich- Evelyn Kielty Uldrich
Lisa Rich-McKelvey- Deb Rich
Chris Rich-McKelvey- Barb McKelvey
Owyn Rich-McKelvey- Lisa Rich- McKelvey
JoAnn Charlson- Violet Charlson
Su Podraza-Nagle- Nancy Louise Miller
Todd Davis- Mary Davis, Sally
Rev. Deb Hill-Davis, Betty Jean Muenster, Edith Waters, Barb Notch
Thank you to all these loving women who have provided mothering to us all!