By Valerie Elverton Dixon
Mother’s Day is a day when we ought to give God the Mother her proper respect. El Shaddai, God Almighty, the god of breast and womb, the fecund god of fertility, the god that is herself enough; Lady Wisdom, the consort of the Creator God; and in the Christian trinity, Holy Spirit, the comforter, the present dimension of God who remains to guide us and to instruct us ought to receive our praise.
We honor God the Mother when we remember the holiness of woman and see in her an image of God no less than the image of God in man. Such reverence would cause us to cherish the bodies of women as more than sexual objects. It would compel us to work against the trafficking of girls and women into sex slavery. And, we would not rest so long as the bodies of women remain the terrain of war, so long as rape is a tactic of war, so long as any mother sheds a tear for a child killed in violent conflict.
When we remember God the Mother, we can define as divine alternative ethics leading to a new politics. A feminist ethics of care would live alongside an ethics of rights and duty. Such would remind us of the importance of care givers, especially those who care for the weak and vulnerable among us – children, the elderly, the physically and mentally challenged. We would insist that we pay them a decent wage. A feminist ethics that values presence, particularity, relationality, community and peace would balance ethics of transcendence, universality, autonomy, individualism and conflict. It would help us see that soft power, positive power, is power nonetheless, and we can deploy a politics of just distribution of the earth’s resources to prevent war. An ecofeminist ethic would help us regard the earth as holy and insist that we touch it with gentle fingers.
When we embrace God the Mother, we can live into the womanist virtues of responsibility, love, commitment, and complexity, knowing that simplistic answers can lead us astray. For the sake of life and flourishing our analysis ought to pay attention to the various ways the world limits us then seek strategies to move past the limits. When we consider God the Mother, we understand the necessity for the extreme unction of grace, the holly oil that lubricates human relationships to decrease the friction that cause us to cause each other pain.
Mother’s Day is a time when we bring to the foreground of our memory the times when God the Mother read us bedtime stories and sang us to sleep; when she healed our skinned knees and elbows and bump, bruises and boo boos with cold water and kisses; when we loved a love with our best selves, were rejected, and shed obdurate tears that refused to quit until she reminded us that there is more than one pebble on the beach, there is a Little Rock in Arkansas; we laughed and breathed and looked forward to tomorrow and the possibility of a new and better love. We remember that she encouraged us to take a risk, keeping faith in ourselves and faith in God.
Mother’s Day is a day to recognize God the Mother acting through our birth mothers and adopted mothers and other mothers and man mothers. It is a divine love, stronger than death, which loves us beyond anything we deserve. It is a love that requires us to love with such a love.
Happy Mother’s Day.
Valerie Elverton Dixon is founder JustPeaceTheory.com. She taught Christian Ethics at Andover Newton Theological School in Newton, MA and United Theological Seminary in Dayton, Ohio.