Reflections on mothers and matriarchs

… give them to all the people who helped mother our children. … I don’t want something special. I want something beautifully plain. Like everything else, it can fill me only if it is ordinary and available to all. — Anne Lamott

Mother is a verb. It’s something you do. Not just who you are. – Dorothy Canfield Fisher

Just when you think you know love, something little comes along and reminds you just how big it is. – unattributed

Motherhood takes many forms… there are step-moms, foster moms, adopted moms, and moms who have been estranged from their kids. — Ryan Nelson

We are braver and wiser because they existed, those strong women and strong men… We are who we are because they were who they were. It’s wise to know where you come from, who called your name. — Maya Angelou

Songs about and for Mothers:

What Shall I Tell My Children Who Are Black
(Reflections of an African-American Mother)

(excerpt) — Maya Angelou
… So this I will do for them, If I love them.
None will do it for me.
I must find the truth of heritage for myself
And pass it on to them.
In years to come I believe
Because I have armed them
with the truth, my children
And my children’s children will venerate me. 
For it is the truth that will make us free!

From “understory” Craig Santos Perez
my daughter, i know
our stories are heavier
than stones, but you
must carry them with
you no matter how
far from home the
storms take your canoe
because you will always
find shelter in our
stories, you will always
belong in our stories,
you will always be
sacred in our ocean
of stories…

OF MOTHERS

We are born of love; Love is our mother. — Rumi

What shall I tell my dear one, fruit of my womb, Of how beautiful they are … — Maya Angelou

Motherhood takes many forms… there are step-moms, foster moms, adopted moms, and moms who have been estranged from their kids. — Ryan Nelson

You know, there’s nothing damnable about being a strong woman. The world needs strong women. There are a lot of strong women you do not see who are guiding, helping, mothering strong men. — Ginger Rogers
 
… these old photos of our mothers feel like both a chasm and a bridge. The woman in the picture is someone other than the woman we know. She is also exactly the person in the photo — still, right now. Finally, we see that the woman we’ve come to think of as Mom — whether she’s nurturing, or disapproving, or thoughtful, or delusional, or pestering, or supportive, or sentimental — is also a mysterious, fun, brave babe. She’s been here all this time. — Edan Lepuck

I remember my mother’s prayers and they have always followed me. They have clung to me all my life. — Abraham Lincoln

Life began with waking up and loving my mother’s face. — George Eliot

For when a child is born the mother also is born again.—  Gilbert Parker

OTHER MOTHERS: SPIRITUAL PARENTS
… my main gripe about Mother’s Day is that it feels incomplete and imprecise. The main thing that ever helped mothers was other people mothering them; a chain of mothering that keeps the whole shebang afloat. I am the woman I grew to be partly in spite of my mother, and partly because of the extraordinary love of her best friends, and my own best friends’ mothers, and from surrogates, many of whom were not women at all but gay men … — Anne Lamott  

Our images of God, then, must be inclusive because God is not mother, no, but God is not father either. God is neither male nor female. God is pure spirit, pure being, pure life — both of them. Male and female, in us all. — Joan Chittister

I know how lucky I am to have such a wonderful woman and heroine in my life. Also, I do recognize that not everyone has this blessing. This is why Mother’s Day can sometimes bring out many different emotions in people. Some women have lost their mothers, women who have absent mothers, women who are desperately trying or have tried to have a baby and become a mother themselves, and women who are single mothers having to be a mother and father to their children. The list goes on. We all know women like this or are those very women ourselves. So this year and every year let me suggest something. On Mother’s Day, let’s not only celebrate our mothers and the mothers of the world but let’s celebrate the women in our lives who have helped us become the women WE are today…
         These women are everywhere. Maybe they are your favorite teacher, your aunt, your grandmother, your stepmother, your neighbor, or a friend. We all have “mothered” someone and have shown them love and support in their time of need. So, let’s thank and celebrate those women in our lives too. To me these women are not only my mother, they are my Aunt Barbara and my dear friends who for years have given me unwavering love and support. I wouldn’t be who I am today without them.
         So again, on Mother’s Day I want us to celebrate not just mothers of the world, but the women that helped you become the strong and beautiful woman that you are.  — Nina Spears

God as Creator: Source Code of Grace— Nadia Bolz-Weber
In the beginning, all there was, was God. So in order to bring the world into being, God had to kind of scoot over. So God chose to take up less space—you know, to make room. So before God spoke the world into being, God scooted over. God wanted to share. Like the kind-faced woman on the subway who takes her handbag onto her lap so that there’s room for you to sit next to her. She didn’t have to do it, but that’s just who she is . . . the kind-faced subway lady’s nature is that she makes room for others.
Then God had an absolute explosion of creativity and made animals. Amoebas. Chickens. Crickets. Bees. Orangutans.
Then God said, “Let us create humans in our own image and likeness.” Let us. So, God the community, God the family, God the friend group, God the opposite of isolation, said, “Let us create humanity in our image and likeness. Let there be us and them in one being.”
So God created every one of us in the male and female image of God. Then God gave us God’s own image —something so holy that it could never be harmed, and never be taken away. A never-aloneness. An origin and destination. A source code of grace…

ACKNOWLEDGING HURT

We can’t pretend like Mother’s Day is a cheery holiday for everyone. It’s not. If you’ve experienced mom-related trauma like abuse, addiction, mental health issues, abandonment, or death, this is a time when people … grieve something they lost or never had. … people … struggle with motherhood or have been hurt by this relationship … — Ryan Nelson

The chain connecting mother to daughter was broken and the world passed to the keeping of men, who had no way of knowing. ― Anita Diamant

Mother’s Day celebrates a huge lie about the value of women: that mothers are superior beings, that they have done more with their lives and chosen a more difficult path. Ha! Every woman’s path is difficult, and many mothers were as equipped to raise children as wire monkey mothers. I say that without judgment: It is, sadly, true. An unhealthy mother’s love is withering. The illusion is that mothers are automatically happier, more fulfilled and complete ... I hate the way the holiday makes all non-mothers, and the daughters of dead mothers, and the mothers of dead or severely damaged children, feel the deepest kind of grief and failure … — Anne Lamott

PRAYER — Hannah Kardon
To the Moms who are struggling, to those filled with incandescent joy.
To the Moms who are remembering children who have died, and pregnancies that miscarried.
To the Moms who decided other parents were the best choice for their babies, to the Moms who adopted those kids and loved them fierce.
To those experiencing frustration or desperation in infertility.
To those who knew they never wanted kids, and the ways they have contributed to our shared world.
To those who mothered colleagues, mentees, neighborhood kids, and anyone who needed it.
To those remembering Moms no longer with us.
To those moving forward from Moms who did not show love, or hurt those they should have cared for.
… honor the unyielding love and care for others we call ‘Motherhood,’ wherever we have found it and in whatever ways we have found to cultivate it within ourselves.

Meditations on All Hallow’s Eve: October 31

On this All Hallows Eve, who lingers close to you? — Jan Richardson

… we give thanks for all those who have come before us
handing on the faith and being used by God for simple acts of love.
— Nadia Bolz Weber

“Will we ever stop being afraid of nights and death?”
“When you reach the stars, boy, yes, and live there forever,
all the fears will go, and Death himself will die.”
― Ray Bradbury

… There is a vast mystery into which I believe
I will fall at the time of my death.
At the centre of that mystery is the power of love
who holds me in this life and
will not forsake me at the moment of death.
Christopher Page

Halloween is a celebration of the inversion of reality and a necessary
Gothic hat-tip to the darker aspects of life, death and ourselves.
― Stewart Stafford

This is love: to fly toward a secret sky,
to cause a hundred veils to fall each moment.
First to let go of life. Finally, to take a step without feet.
— Rumi

Samhain
is the threshold to the Season of Death.
The fertile fields of summer give way to the bare forests of autumn.
As crops slowly die and winter takes over,
the cycle of life is once again approaching a renewal.
― Dacha Avelin

SONGS about ALL HALLOW’s EVE:

FUN HALLOWEEN Song List:

ALL HALLOWS BLESSING — Jan Richardson

Who live
in the spaces
between our breathing
in the corner
of our vision
in the hollows
of our bones
in the chambers
of our heart:
nowhere
can they be touched
yet still
how they move us,
how they move in us,
made from
the tissue of memory
like the veil
between the worlds
that stirs
at the merest breath
this night
and then is at rest.


ALL SAINTS DAY BLESSING
(Adapted by unknown medical chaplain from poems by John O’Donohue)

What we do here is brave.
We travel this land of fragile human-ness,
holding all the questions
that fear and fierce love
send our way.
We do well to remember
that we are both guest and guide.
May you have courage
to meet wounded spirits with compassion
in their stunning depths of pain
and stand by them in creative space
where story and suffering join,
new meanings emerge,
old wounds heal.
In this season of saints and souls,
may you have good companions
in this place between
the bleak despair of illness
and the unquenchable light of spirit.
May you admire
that spirit in those you serve,
no matter how expressed
—noble, troubling or unwise—
and keep faith
with the gifts you bring.
And may you learn
from these frontier places,
wisdom for your own heart—
wisdom to welcome
the blessings of your kindness,
and be held with love
in all the seasons of your life.

FOR THOSE WHO WALKED WITH USJan Richardson

For those
who walked with us,
this is a prayer.

For those
who have gone ahead,
this is a blessing.

For those
who touched and tended us,
who lingered with us
while they lived,
this is a thanksgiving.

For those
who journey still with us
in the shadows of awareness,
in the crevices of memory,
in the landscape of our dreams,
this is a benediction.

ALL HALLOWSLouise Glück
 
Even now this landscape is assembling.
The hills darken.
The oxen sleep
in their blue yoke,
the fields having been picked clean,
the sheaves bound evenly and
piled at the roadside among cinquefoil,
as the toothed moon rises:
 
This is the barrenness
of harvest or pestilence.
And the wife leaning out the window
with her hand extended,
as in payment,
and the seeds,
distinct,
gold,
calling,
Come here,
Come here, little one

 
And the soul creeps out of the tree.

MEDITATIONS on ALL HALLOW’S EVE as CHRISTIAN OBSERVANCE

It is quite a thing, really. That we are connected to so many. Connected to so much faith. So many stories. So much divine love. Especially in this day and age of alienation and trying to find community and belonging in smaller and smaller ways … what connects me to the body of Christ is not my piety or good works or theological beliefs. It’s God. A God who gathers up all of God’s children into the church eternal …Your hearts are heavy with the loss of someone dear. Many of us have our own beloved dead to remember this day. People who we’d frankly rather still have here in this room as a living person and not as a photo on a … table at church … death is never the final word because in boith life and death we … are very much connected to God and to one another. … God somehow gathers us all ip into the divine love of Christ and makes us a body both now and in the life to come … Jesus had real friends who died, and he stood outside the tomb of Lazarus and wept. … God in Jesus was so moved by compassion and love for those … a God who in Jesus descended to the dead as though to say to us “:even here I will find you and not let go” because death has no sting – death is rendered meaningless to a God of resurrection. — Nadia Bolz Weber


I am grateful that the sacred calendar provides a day to do what so many of us do throughout the year: to remember beloved ones who are no longer here but who somehow journey with us still. In sorrow and in joy, in memory and in hope, and in the love that goes even deeper than the grief … — Jan Richardson


Today is a day when Christian tradition urges us to contemplate the reality of death. Today is All Hallow’s Eve, the evening before All Hallow’s (All Saints’) Day.
     On All Saints’ Day (Nov 1) we are invited to contemplate the possibility that the barrier we normally perceive between this life and whatever follows our physical death may be more permeable than we might assume from the evidence of our physical senses. We are encouraged to consider that physical death may not be the terminus of human existence. There may be a dimension beyond the physical in which all beings who have ever existed continue in some form to dwell.
     Today is a “thin day.” Today we open to the possibility that those who are departed may in some holy way continue to engage in a sacred interchange with the tangible realm occupied by those of us who have yet to make our final transition into the mystery of death…
     So, on this All Hallow’s Eve I affirm that the dark is only dark to my impoverished perception. The darkness of death opens into the dawn of a new and transforming light that I glimpse in the life death and resurrection of Jesus and that I touch in the transcendent beauty and light of this life. — Christopher Page

SAMHAIN Annie Finch
(The Celtic Halloween)

In the season leaves should love,
since it gives them leave to move
through the wind, towards the ground
they were watching while they hung,
legend says there is a seam
stitching darkness like a name.

Now when dying grasses veil
earth from the sky in one last pale
wave, as autumn dies to bring
winter back, and then the spring,
we who die ourselves can peel
back another kind of veil

that hangs among us like thick smoke.
Tonight at last I feel it shake.
I feel the nights stretching away
thousands long behind the days
till they reach the darkness where
all of me is ancestor.

I move my hand and feel a touch
move with me, and when I brush
my own mind across another,
I am with my mother’s mother.
Sure as footsteps in my waiting
self, I find her, and she brings

arms that carry answers for me,
intimate, a waiting bounty. “Carry me.”
She leaves this trail through a shudder of the veil,
and leaves, like amber where she stays,
a gift for her perpetual gaze.

OF HALLOWEEN and SAMHAIN

Samhain is a pagan religious festival originating from an ancient Celtic spiritual tradition. In modern times, Samhain (a Gaelic word pronounced “SAH-win”) is usually celebrated from October 31 to November 1 to welcome in the harvest and usher in “the dark half of the year.” Celebrants believe that the barriers between the physical world and the spirit world break down during Samhain, allowing more interaction between humans and denizens of the Otherworld. — History.com (full article: https://www.history.com/topics/holidays/samhain)

Halloween is a holiday celebrated each year on October 31, and Halloween 2021 will occur on Sunday, October 31. The tradition originated with the ancient Celtic festival of Samhain, when people would light bonfires and wear costumes to ward off ghosts. In the eighth century, Pope Gregory III designated November 1 as a time to honor all saints. Soon, All Saints Day incorporated some of the traditions of Samhain. The evening before was known as All Hallows Eve, and later Halloween. Over time, Halloween evolved into a day of activities like trick-or-treating, carving jack-o-lanterns, festive gatherings, donning costumes and eating treats. — History.com (full article: https://www.history.com/topics/halloween/history-of-halloween)

REFLECTIONS on These Two Days

Halloween is not only about putting on a costume, but it’s about finding the imagination and costume within ourselves. – Elvis Duran

I was born on the night of Samhain, when the barrier between the worlds is whisper-thin and when magic, old magic, sings its heady and sweet song to anyone who cares to hear it. ― Carolyn MacCullough

Samhain was considered to be a moment when the veil between this world and the otherworld was at its thinnest. Old gods had to be placated with gifts and sacrifice, and the trickery of fairies was an even greater risk than usual. This was a liminal moment in the calendar, a time between two worlds, between two phases of the year, when worshippers were about to cross a boundary but hadn’t yet done so. Samhain was a way of marking that ambiguous moment when you didn’t know who you were about to become, or what the future would hold. It was a celebration of limbo. ― Katherine May

While Halloween certainly acknowledges the “dark, creepy and scary side of life”, I’m not at all convinced that it necessarily glorifies it. The world is full of strangeness and mystery, and some degree of fascination with such things is entirely normal. — Rob Grayson

Halloween in the Anthropocene, 2015Craig Santos Perez

Darkness spills across the sky like an oil plume.
The moon reflects bleached coral. Tonight, let us
praise the sacrificed. Praise the souls of  black boys, enslaved by supply chains,
who carry bags of cacao under West African heat.

“Trick or treat, smell my feet,
give me something good to eat,”

sings a girl dressed as a Disney princess.
Let us praise the souls of   brown girls
who sew our clothes as fire
unthreads sweatshops into smoke and ash.

“Trick or treat, smell my feet, give me something good,”
whisper kids disguised as ninjas.
Tonight, let us praise the souls of Asian children
who manufacture toys and tech until gravity
sharpens their bodies enough to cut through suicide nets.

“Trick or treat, smell my feet, give me,”
shout boys camouflaged as soldiers.
Let us praise the souls of  veterans
who salute with their guns because
only triggers will pull God into their ruined temples.

“Trick or treat, smell my feet,” chant kids
masquerading as cowboys and Indians.
Tonight let us praise the souls of native youth,
whose eyes are open-pit uranium mines,
veins are poisoned rivers, hearts are tar sands tailings ponds.

“Trick or treat,” says a boy dressed as the sun.
Let us praise El Niño, his growing pains,
praise his mother, Ocean,
who is dying in a warming bath
among dead fish and refugee children.
Let us praise our mothers of  asthma,
mothers of  cancer clusters, mothers of miscarriage 
— pray for us — 
because our costumes
won’t hide the true cost of our greed.
Praise our mothers of  lost habitats,
mothers of  fallout, mothers of extinction 
— pray for us —
because even tomorrow will be haunted 
— leave them, leave us, leave — 

Mothers and miracles: matriarchs and mothers and others who love us and start us on the path to becoming whole human beings

… give them to all the people who helped mother our children. … I don’t want something special. I want something beautifully plain. Like everything else, it can fill me only if it is ordinary and available to all. — Anne Lamott

Mother is a verb. It’s something you do. Not just who you are. – Dorothy Canfield Fisher

Just when you think you know love, something little comes along and reminds you just how big it is. – unattributed

Motherhood takes many forms… there are step-moms, foster moms, adopted moms, and moms who have been estranged from their kids. — Ryan Nelson

We are braver and wiser because they existed, those strong women and strong men… We are who we are because they were who they were. It’s wise to know where you come from, who called your name. — Maya Angelou

Songs about and for Mothers:


What Shall I Tell My Children Who Are Black
(Reflections of an African-American Mother)

(excerpt) — Maya Angelou
… So this I will do for them, If I love them.
None will do it for me.
I must find the truth of heritage for myself
And pass it on to them.
In years to come I believe
Because I have armed them
with the truth, my children
And my children’s children will venerate me. 
For it is the truth that will make us free!

From “understory” Craig Santos Perez
my daughter, i know
our stories are heavier
than stones, but you
must carry them with
you no matter how
far from home the
storms take your canoe
because you will always
find shelter in our
stories, you will always
belong in our stories,
you will always be
sacred in our ocean
of stories…

OF MOTHERS

We are born of love; Love is our mother. — Rumi

What shall I tell my dear one, fruit of my womb, Of how beautiful they are … — Maya Angelou

Motherhood takes many forms… there are step-moms, foster moms, adopted moms, and moms who have been estranged from their kids. — Ryan Nelson

You know, there’s nothing damnable about being a strong woman. The world needs strong women. There are a lot of strong women you do not see who are guiding, helping, mothering strong men. — Ginger Rogers

… these old photos of our mothers feel like both a chasm and a bridge. The woman in the picture is someone other than the woman we know. She is also exactly the person in the photo — still, right now. Finally, we see that the woman we’ve come to think of as Mom — whether she’s nurturing, or disapproving, or thoughtful, or delusional, or pestering, or supportive, or sentimental — is also a mysterious, fun, brave babe. She’s been here all this time. — Edan Lepuck

I remember my mother’s prayers and they have always followed me. They have clung to me all my life. — Abraham Lincoln

Life began with waking up and loving my mother’s face. — George Eliot

For when a child is born the mother also is born again.—  Gilbert Parker

OTHER MOTHERS: SPIRITUAL PARENTS

… my main gripe about Mother’s Day is that it feels incomplete and imprecise. The main thing that ever helped mothers was other people mothering them; a chain of mothering that keeps the whole shebang afloat. I am the woman I grew to be partly in spite of my mother, and partly because of the extraordinary love of her best friends, and my own best friends’ mothers, and from surrogates, many of whom were not women at all but gay men … — Anne Lamott  

Our images of God, then, must be inclusive because God is not mother, no, but God is not father either. God is neither male nor female. God is pure spirit, pure being, pure life — both of them. Male and female, in us all. — Joan Chittister

I know how lucky I am to have such a wonderful woman and heroine in my life. Also, I do recognize that not everyone has this blessing. This is why Mother’s Day can sometimes bring out many different emotions in people. Some women have lost their mothers, women who have absent mothers, women who are desperately trying or have tried to have a baby and become a mother themselves, and women who are single mothers having to be a mother and father to their children. The list goes on. We all know women like this or are those very women ourselves. So this year and every year let me suggest something. On Mother’s Day, let’s not only celebrate our mothers and the mothers of the world but let’s celebrate the women in our lives who have helped us become the women WE are today…
         These women are everywhere. Maybe they are your favorite teacher, your aunt, your grandmother, your stepmother, your neighbor, or a friend. We all have “mothered” someone and have shown them love and support in their time of need. So, let’s thank and celebrate those women in our lives too. To me these women are not only my mother, they are my Aunt Barbara and my dear friends who for years have given me unwavering love and support. I wouldn’t be who I am today without them.
         So again, on Mother’s Day I want us to celebrate not just mothers of the world, but the women that helped you become the strong and beautiful woman that you are.  — Nina Spears (excerpt of posting)

GOD as CREATOR: Source Code of Grace — Nadia Bolz-Weber (excerpt from sermon)
In the beginning, all there was, was God. So in order to bring the world into being, God had to kind of scoot over. So God chose to take up less space—you know, to make room. So before God spoke the world into being, God scooted over. God wanted to share. Like the kind-faced woman on the subway who takes her handbag onto her lap so that there’s room for you to sit next to her. She didn’t have to do it, but that’s just who she is . . . the kind-faced subway lady’s nature is that she makes room for others.

Then God had an absolute explosion of creativity and made animals. Amoebas. Chickens. Crickets. Bees. Orangutans.

Then God said, “Let us create humans in our own image and likeness.” Let us. So, God the community, God the family, God the friend group, God the opposite of isolation, said, “Let us create humanity in our image and likeness. Let there be us and them in one being.”

So God created every one of us in the male and female image of God. Then God gave us God’s own image —something so holy that it could never be harmed, and never be taken away. A never-aloneness. An origin and destination. A source code of grace…

ACKNOWLEDGING HURT

We can’t pretend like Mother’s Day is a cheery holiday for everyone. It’s not. If you’ve experienced mom-related trauma like abuse, addiction, mental health issues, abandonment, or death, this is a time when people … grieve something they lost or never had. … people … struggle with motherhood or have been hurt by this relationship … — Ryan Nelson

The chain connecting mother to daughter was broken and the world passed to the keeping of men, who had no way of knowing. ― Anita Diamant

… Mother’s Day celebrates a huge lie about the value of women: that mothers are superior beings, that they have done more with their lives and chosen a more difficult path. Ha! Every woman’s path is difficult, and many mothers were as equipped to raise children as wire monkey mothers. I say that without judgment: It is, sadly, true. An unhealthy mother’s love is withering. The illusion is that mothers are automatically happier, more fulfilled and complete ... I hate the way the holiday makes all non-mothers, and the daughters of dead mothers, and the mothers of dead or severely damaged children, feel the deepest kind of grief and failure … — Anne Lamott

PRAYER — Hannah Kardon
To the Moms who are struggling, to those filled with incandescent joy.
To the Moms who are remembering children who have died, and pregnancies that miscarried.
To the Moms who decided other parents were the best choice for their babies, to the Moms who adopted those kids and loved them fierce.
To those experiencing frustration or desperation in infertility.
To those who knew they never wanted kids, and the ways they have contributed to our shared world.
To those who mothered colleagues, mentees, neighborhood kids, and anyone who needed it.
To those remembering Moms no longer with us.
To those moving forward from Moms who did not show love, or hurt those they should have cared for.
… honor the unyielding love and care for others we call ‘Motherhood,’ wherever we have found it and in whatever ways we have found to cultivate it within ourselves.

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