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Lenten Meditation: In the Lap of a Mothering God

by Anne Peterson

March 6 was my mother’s birthday. She died June 6, 1973, at age 67. I was 26, and expecting my first child. Three years later my second daughter was born on March 6. Tess has my mother’s syrup brown eyes and her sensuous physicality. When she hugs you, you feel enveloped in love.

In the years when All Saints was making a transition from exclusively male pronouns in the liturgy and exploring the concept of who/what God might be, we pioneered a Sunday liturgy we called The Feminine Face of God. We used exclusively female pronouns, which referred to God. We attached a survey to the back of the printed program for people’s responses. Unsurprisingly, more women than men liked the changes. Surprisingly, to me, were the comments from some of the men who responded positively. One man said he’d grown up with an abusive father and could never imagine God as male. Referring to God as “she” warmed him to the concept of God as mothering and supportive—as well as encouraging him to love his sister or forgive the friend who’d hurt him.

By the time the Task Force on Inclusive Language had offered this Sunday experience, I realized that my own journey from feeling it impossible to see God as female to embracing the concept was an intellectual one. I believed it in my head, but I didn’t feel it in my body. And then, in Lent, while meditating in the early morning, I saw myself sitting on my mother’s lap, with her strong arms holding me close. It was like sitting in the lap of a mothering God. I felt my inner being expand with love and acceptance.

Who or what is expanding your vision, your heart, your being this Lent?

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