Motherhood has powerfully reinforced for me the significance of the fact that when God was most vulnerable – in the womb, nursing at the breast, as a child, at death – God was wholly entrusted to the care of women. I find that frighteningly profound. — Rachel Held Evans
We are born of love. Love is our mother. – Rumi
Songs about and for Mothers:
- Mama Said by Shirelles (rock)
- What’s Going On by Marvin Gaye (rock)
- Supermarket Flowers by Ed Sheeran (pop)
- Love Like This by Lauren Daigle (Christian pop)
- Mama’s Song by Carrie Underwood (country)
- Dear Mama by Tupac Shakur (rap ballad)
- Song for Mama by Boyz 2 Men (pop)
- Like My Mother Does by Lauren Alaina (country)
- Mom by Garth Brooks (country)
- Thank You by Good Charlotte (pop ballad)
- Mother Like Mine by The Band Perry (country)
- Mama Liked the Roses by Elvis Presley (rock ballad)
- When We Fall Apart by Ryan Stevenson with Vince Gill & Amy Grant (country)
Songs by, about, and for Women:
- Girl on Fire by Alicia Keyes (pop): https://youtu.be/J91ti_MpdHA
- You Say by Lauren Daigle (Christian): https://youtu.be/sIaT8Jl2zpI
- Run the World by Beyonce (pop/rap/R&B): https://youtu.be/VBmMU_iwe6U
- This One’s for the Girls by Martina McBride (pop): https://youtu.be/oTowId2CWHA
- Woman by Kesha (country): https://youtu.be/lXyA4MXKIKo
- Ladies First by Queen Latifah (rap): https://youtu.be/8Qimg_q7LbQ
- Can’t Hold Us Down by Christina Aguilera (hiphop/pop): https://youtu.be/dg8QgUIKXHw
- You Know My Name by Tasha Cobbs Leonard (Christian): https://youtu.be/t7owFiihXgg
- Roar by Katy Perry (pop): https://youtu.be/CevxZvSJLk8
- I’m Coming Out by Diana Ross (R&B): https://youtu.be/F-mjl63e0ms
- Respect by Aretha Franklin (R&B): https://youtu.be/6FOUqQt3Kg0
- Stronger by Kel.ly Clarkson (country/pop): https://youtu.be/Xn676-fLq7I
- Just a Girl by No Doubt (indie/pop): https://youtu.be/PHzOOQfhPFg
- Born This Way by Lady Gaga (rock/pop): https://youtu.be/wV1FrqwZyKw
- Ain’t Your Mama by Jennifer Lopez (pop): https://youtu.be/Pgmx7z49OEk
- Fight Song by Rachel Platten (pop): https://youtu.be/xo1VInw-SKc
- Confident by Demi Lovato (pop): https://youtu.be/cwLRQn61oUY
- Independent Woen Pt 1 by Destiny’s Child (pop): https://youtu.be/0lPQZni7I18
- I’m Every Woman by Whitney Houston (pop): https://youtu.be/H7_sqdkaAfo
Blessing the Mothers — Jan Richardson
Blessing the Mothers
Who are our
a space of blessing
with their own being:
with the belly
the bone and
if not with these,
then with the
that offers itself
and grow wide,
to gather itself
Who lean into
the wonder and terror
of loving what
they can hold
but cannot contain.
in some part of themselves
a corner of consciousness
keeping perpetual vigil.
that the story
is what endures
is what binds us
is what runs deeper
even than blood
and so they spin them
of what abides
on what remains:
a simple gladness
that latches onto us
and graces us
on our way.
|A Litany of Women for the Church — Joan Chittister|
Dear God, creator of women in your own image,
born of a woman in the midst
of a world half women,
carried by women to … fields around the globe,
made known by women to all the children of the earth,
give to the women of our time
the strength to persevere,
the courage to speak out,
the faith to believe in you beyond
all systems and institutions
so that your face on earth may be seen in all its beauty,
so that men and women become whole
We call on the holy women
who went before us,
channels of Your Word
in testaments old and new,
to intercede for us
so that we might be given the grace
to become what they have been
for … God.
… Saint Esther, who pleaded against power
for the liberation of the people, –Pray for us.
Saint Judith, who routed the plans of men
and saved the community,
Saint Deborah, laywoman and judge, who led
the people of God,
Saint Elizabeth of Judea, who recognized the value
of another woman,
Saint Mary Magdalene, minister of Jesus,
the first evangelist of the Christ,
Saint Scholastica, who taught her brother Benedict
to honor the spirit above the system,
Saint Hildegard, who suffered interdict
for the doing of right,
Saint Joan of Arc, who put no law above the law of God,
Saint Clare of Assisi, who confronted the pope
with the image of woman as equal,
Saint Julian of Norwich, who proclaimed for all of us
the motherhood of God,
Saint Thérèse of Lisieux, who knew the call
to priesthood in herself,
Saint Catherine of Siena, to whom the pope listened,
Saint Teresa of Avila, who brought women’s gifts
to the reform of the church,
Saint Edith Stein, who brought fearlessness to faith,
Saint Elizabeth Seton, who broke down boundaries
between lay women and religious
by wedding motherhood and religious life,
Saint Dorothy Day, who led the church
in a new sense of justice,
Mary, mother of Jesus,
who heard the call of God and answered,
Mary, mother of Jesus,
who drew strength from the woman Elizabeth,
Mary, mother of Jesus,
who underwent hardship bearing Christ,
Mary, mother of Jesus,
who ministered at Cana,
Mary, mother of Jesus,
inspirited at Pentecost,
Mary mother of Jesus,
who turned the Spirit of God
into the body and blood of Christ, pray for us. Amen.
Prayer for those getting through mother’s day
— Maren Tirabassi
Spirit of gentleness,
wrap all your holy loving
around all of those
just hoping to get through a holiday
that washes them in tears –
because their mothers are dead
or their children are dead,
because they wanted children
but did not have them,
or their children don’t want them
right now in their lives,
or their parents don’t love
a gender identity so dearly chosen,
because their childhood family
or their present one
is marked by abuse,
because there is great distance
of miles or minds
of border wall or prison wall
and someone they love,
because of a miscarriage,
a failed search for a biological parent,
a lonely foster care bedroom,
a desperate attempt
to be a perfect stepparent
or no attempt made at all,
or just because this holiday
holds up a magnifying glass
to the heart.
On this Mother’s Day, I celebrate and give thanks for my own mother … and all the mothers who have been able to provide this tremendous gift. And I offer prayers for those women who, owing to the gaps and fissures in their own landscape, have left pain and emptiness in the space where a mother should have been. For those who choose to enter into the empty, motherless places—the “othermothers” who come in the form of teachers, grandmothers, aunts, sisters, neighbors, friends—bless you and thank you for your mothering hearts. For all the mothers—mothers by blood, mothers by heart—a blessing to you on this Mother’s Day. — Jan Richardson
Essay about Mother’s Day — Anne Lamott
I did not raise my son, Sam, to celebrate Mother’s Day. … 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. But the craziest, grimmest people this Sunday will be the mothers themselves, stuck herding their own mothers and weeping children and husbands’ mothers into seats at restaurants. These mothers do not want a box of chocolate. These mothers are on a diet.
…. 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. The non-mothers must sit in their churches, temples, mosques, recovery rooms and pretend to feel good about the day while they are excluded from a holiday that benefits no one but Hallmark and See’s. There is no refuge — not at the horse races, movies, malls, museums. … You could always hide in a nice seedy bar, I suppose. Or an ER.
… Don’t get me wrong: There were times I could have literally died of love for my son, and I’ve felt stoned on his rich, desperate love for me. But I bristle at the whispered lie that you can know this level of love and self-sacrifice only if you are a parent. …
But 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 …
No one is more sentimentalized in America than mothers on Mother’s Day, but no one is more often blamed for the culture’s bad people and behavior. You want to give me chocolate and flowers? Great. I love them both. I just don’t want them out of guilt, and I don’t want them if you’re not going to give them to all the people who helped mother our children. But if you are going to include everyone, then make mine something like M&M’s, and maybe flowers you picked yourself, even from my own garden, the cut stems wrapped in wet paper towels, then tin foil and a waxed-paper bag from my kitchen drawers. 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.
Flare (excerpt) — Mary Oliver
was the blue wisteria,
was the mossy stream out behind the house,
my mother, alas, alas,
did not always love her life,
heavier than iron it was
as she carried it in her arms, from room to room,
I bury her
in a box
in the earth
and turn away.
was a demon of frustrated dreams,
was a breaker of trust,
was a poor, thin boy with bad luck.
He followed God, there being no one else
he could talk to;
he swaggered before God, there being no one else
who would listen.
this was his life.
I bury it in the earth.
I sweep the closets.
I leave the house.
I mention them now,
I will not mention them again.
It is not lack of love
nor lack of sorrow.
But the iron thing they carried, I will not carry.
I give them–one, two, three, four–the kiss of courtesy,
of sweet thanks,
of anger, of good luck in the deep earth.
May they sleep well. May they soften.
But I will not give them the kiss of complicity.
I will not give them the responsibility for my life.
There was something so valuable about what happened when one became a mother. For me it was the most liberating thing that ever happened to me. . . . Liberating because the demands that children make are not the demands of a normal ‘other.’ The children’s demands on me were things that nobody ever asked me to do. To be a good manager. To have a sense of humor. To deliver something that somebody could use. And they were not interested in all the things that other people were interested in, like what I was wearing or if I were sensual. . . . Somehow all of the baggage that I had accumulated as a person about what was valuable just fell away. I could not only be me — whatever that was — but somebody actually needed me to be that. . . . If you listen to [your children], somehow you are able to free yourself from baggage and vanity and all sorts of things, and deliver a better self, one that you like. The person that was in me that I liked best was the one my children seemed to want. — Toni Morrison
[T]he point is that freedom is choosing your responsibility. . . . A lady doctor has to be able to say, “I want to go home.” And the one at home has the right to say, “I want to go to medical school.” That’s all there is to that, but then the choices cause problems where there are no problems because “either/or” seems to set up the conflict, first in language and then in life. . . . I tried hard to be both the ship and the safe harbor at the same time, to be able to make a house and be on the job market and still nurture the children. . . . No one should be asked to make a choice between a home or a career. Why not have both? It’s all possible.
Black women [need to] pay . . . attention to the ancient properties — which for me means the ability to be “the ship” and the “safe harbor.” Our history as Black women is the history of women who could build a house and have some children and there was no problem. . . . What we have known is how to be complete human beings, so that we did not let education keep us from our nurturing abilities. . . [T]o lose that is to diminish ourselves unnecessarily. It is not a question, it’s not a conflict. You don’t have to give up anything. You choose your responsibilities.— Toni Morrison
In a season of drought, let’s focus on water stewarsdhip and appreciation. Let’s also consider its spiritual resonances, and take time to savor upcoming milestones such as graduations.
Songs about water:
- Something in the Water by Carrie Underwood (country/Christian)
- Hold Back the River by James Bay (pop ballad)
- Black Water by the Doobie Brothers (country)
- Water by Brad Paisley (country)
- Have You Ever Seen the Rain? by Creedance Clearwater Revival
- Dirty Water by the Standells (rock)
- Holy Water by We the Kingdom with Tasha Cobbs Leonard (Christian)
- Up On Cripple Creek by the Band (country/rock)
- Like a Bridge Over Troubled Water by Simon & Garfunkel (folk rock)
- New World Water by Mos Def (eco-rap) **advisory: EXPLICIT lyrics/cursing**
- Come to the River by Housefires (Christian)
- Drink the Water by Jack Johnson (rock)
- Cold Water by Major Lazer (pop)
- I Am a River by Foo Fighters (rock)
- Yes, the River Knows by the Doors (rock)
Water — Wendell Berry
I was born in a drought year.
That summer my mother waited in the house,
enclosed in the sun and the dry ceaseless wind,
for the men to come back in the evenings,
bringing water from a distant spring.
Weins of leaves ran dry, roots shrank.
And all my life I have dreaded
the return of that year,
sure that it still is somewhere,
like a dead enemy’s soul.
Fear of dust in my mouth is always with me,
and I am the faithful husband of the rain,
I love the water of wells and springs
and the taste of roofs in the water of cisterns.
I am a dry man whose thirst is praise of clouds,
and whose mind is something of a cup.
My sweetness is to wake in the night
after days of dry heat, hearing the rain.
Blessing of the Well
— Jan Richardson
If you stand at the edge of this blessing
and call down into it,
you will hear your words return to you.
If you lean in and listen close,
you will hear this blessing
give the story of your life back to you.
Quiet your voice, quiet your judgment, quiet the way
you always tell your story to yourself.
Quiet all these and you will hear
the whole of it and the hollows of it:
the spaces in the telling,
the gaps where you hesitate to go.
Sit at the rim of this blessing.
Press your ear to its lip, its sides, its curves
that were carved out long ago
by those whose thirst drove them deep,
those who dug into the layers
with only their hands and hope.
Rest yourself beside this blessing
and you will begin to hear
the sound of water entering the gaps.
Still yourself and you will feel it
rising up within you, filling every hollow,
springing forth anew.
Life’s Milestones & Passages: Quotes
A journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step. —Sun Tzu
That clock you hear is the sound of your own heart. Sink your teeth into this life, and don’t get let go. —Lin-Manuel Miranda
Remember this: You are awesome. I’m not suggesting you be boastful. No one likes that in men or women. But I am suggesting that believing in yourself is the first necessary step to coming even close to achieving your potential. —Sheryl Sandberg
It’s hard to beat a person who never gives up. —Babe Ruth
If I must give any of you advice it would be say yes. Say yes, and create your own destiny. — Maya Rudolph
The best remedy for those who are frightened, lonely or unhappy is to go outside, somewhere where they can be alone with the sky, nature, and God. For only then can you feel that everything is as it should be and that God wants people to be happy amid nature’s beauty and simplicity. —Anne Frank
I’ve failed over and over and over again in my life. And that is why I succeed. —Michael Jordan
You can’t do it alone. Be open to collaboration. Find a group of people who challenge and inspire you. Spend a lot of time with them and it will change your life. — Amy Poehler
Now go, and make interesting mistakes, make amazing mistakes, make glorious and fantastic mistakes. Break rules. Leave the world more interesting for your being here. —Neil Gaiman
Change takes courage. —Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez
Woman at the Well: Buddhist and Christian Stories (excerpts from reflection by Jyoti Sahi, Indian-Christian artist)
… I find myself often returning to … the story of Jesus conversing with a Samaritan woman at the well. I feel that this dialogue between a Jewish Rabbi and a woman who was considered by orthodox Jews as an outcaste, is similar to the dialogue between Ananda, one of the main disciples of the Buddha, and a Dalit woman who he asked to give him some water to drink. Finally the issue was concerning the line between purity and pollution, between water which should be for all, and which is essential for life on this planet earth, and the ritual distinctions which are made between individuals and communities. … The story is in that sense not only about the relation of Jesus or Ananda, with a particular woman, but about the basis for dialogue itself. I have felt that the story could be the beginning of a dialogue between the Christian tradition, and the essence of Indian spirituality. It is about a meeting which takes place beyond boundaries. … The same theme is also represented by a Buddhist monk artist in Sri Lanka who is … actually depicting not the Buddhist story, but his understanding, as a Buddhist, of the story of Jesus with the woman at the well. What struck me about this picture was that the woman is not alone, and it is not just a dialogue between the Guru and the disciple, but the woman is part of a whole community. In the Biblical story, the woman who comes to the well is alone with him, and it is only later that the disciples find Jesus talking to a woman, and that too a Samaritan, and feel shocked. And then it is later that this woman goes and tells her other Samaritan villagers about Jesus, and wonders if he is in fact a Prophet. In my own paintings on this theme, I suggested that the Woman was not only the human person, but was the water itself. Jesus in this dialogue is addressing, like Francis who talked to the birds, the whole of Creation.
Rain (c) 2016 — Gail Doktor
Around me the earth
My little garden plot
My sweet spot of earth
The piece I own for now
Where seeds and hopes
Oh, and everywhere else
The fields where our children play
The rivers in which we fish
The lakes in which we paddle and boat
The fresh wells on which we draw
Have been thirsty
And slow to refill
Deep and empty
Dry and dehydrated
Below any level of refreshing
Unable to give back
When we turn the tap
Drop the bucket
Open the flow
Oh, we ask
Or a little more
Or just the essential quotient
That assures survival
Of green seedlings
And desperate beings
We hear a guarded maybe
A firm no
A resigned shrug
There isn’t anything to offer
When you ask
When water falls
Like an answer
Late in coming
Just enough to assure us
Some One is listening
Or there’s yet balance in creation
Sufficient to let loose
What we need
What our environment craves
What our homes require
What life itself must have
Or nothing else matters
As essential as breath: Water
In Praise of Water
— John O’Donohue
Let us bless the grace of water:
The imagination of the primeval ocean
Where the first forms of life stirred
And emerged to dress the vacant earth
With warm quilts of color.
The well whose liquid root worked
Through the long night of clay,
Trusting ahead of itself openings
That would yet yield to its yearning
Until at last it arises in the desire of light
To discover the pure quiver of itself
Flowing crystal clear and free
Through delighted emptiness.
The courage of a river to continue belief
In the slow fall of ground,
Always falling farther
Toward the unseen ocean.
The river does what words would love,
Keeping its appearance
By insisting on disappearance;
Its only life surrendered
To the event of pilgrimage,
Carrying the origin to the end,
Seldom pushing or straining,
Keeping itself to itself
Everywhere all along its flow,
All at one with its sinuous mind,
An utter rhythm, never awkward,
It continues to swirl
Through all unlikeness, With elegance:
A ceaseless traverse of presence
Soothing on each side
The stilled fields, Sounding out its journey,
Raising up a buried music
Where the silence of time
Becomes almost audible.
Tides stirred by the eros of the moon
Draw from that permanent restlessness
Perfect waves that languidly rise
And pleat in gradual forms of aquamarine
To offer every last tear of delight
At the altar of stillness inland.
And the rain in the night, driven
By the loneliness of the wind
To perforate the darkness,
As though some air pocket might open
To release the perfume of the lost day
And salvage some memory
From its forsaken turbulence
And drop its weight of longing
Into the earth, and anchor.
Let us bless the humility of water,
Always willing to take the shape
Of whatever otherness holds it,
The buoyancy of water
Stronger than the deadening,
Downward drag of gravity,
The innocence of water,
Flowing forth, without thought
Of what awaits it,
The refreshment of water,
Dissolving the crystals of thirst.
Water: voice of grief,
Cry of love, In the flowing tear.
Water: vehicle and idiom
Of all the inner voyaging
That keeps us alive.
Blessed be water,
Our first mother.
Like The Water — Wendell Berry
Like the water of a deep stream,
love is always too much.
We did not make it.
Though we drink till we burst,
we cannot have it all, or want it all.
In its abundance it survives our thirst.
In the evening we come down to the shore to drink our fill,
and sleep, while it flows
through the regions of the dark.
It does not hold us, except we keep returning to its rich waters
We enter, willing to die,
into the commonwealth of its joy.
PASSAGES REVISITED: Graduation Thoughts
Commencement Address (1982) excerpts to women of Wellesley College — Maya Angelou
… Since you have worked this hard, since you have also been greatly blessed, since you are here, you have developed a marvelous level of courage, and the question then which you must ask yourself , I think, is will you really do the job which is to be done: Make this country more than it is today, more than what James Baldwin called “these yet to be United States”…
…It takes a phenomenal amount of courage. For around this world, your world, my world, there are conflicts, brutalities, humiliations, terrors, murders, around this world. You can almost take any Rand McNally map and close your eyes and just point, and you will find there are injustices, but in your country, particularly in your country, young women, you have, as the old folks say, your work cut out for you. For fascism is on the rise, and be assured of it, sexism, racism, ageism, every vulgarity against the human spirit is on the rise. And this is what you have inherited.
It is upon you to increase your virtue, the virtue of courage—it is upon you. You will be challenged mightily, and you will fall many times.
It is upon you to increase your virtue, the virtue of courage—it is upon you. You will be challenged mightily, and you will fall many times. But it is important to remember that it may be necessary to encounter defeat, I don’t know. But I do know that a diamond, one of the most precious elements in this planet, certainly one in many ways the hardest, is the result of extreme pressure, and time. Under less pressure, it’s crystal. Less pressure than that, its coal, less than that, its fossilized leaves are just plain dirt.
You must encounter, confront life. Life loves the liver of it, ladies. It is for you to increase your virtues. There is that in the human spirit which will not be gunned down even by death. There is no person here who is over one year old who hasn’t slept with fear, or pain or loss or grief, or terror, and yet we have all arisen, have made whatever absolutions we were able to, or chose to, dressed, and said to other human beings, “Good morning. How are you? Fine, thanks.”
Therein lies our chance toward nobleness—not nobility—but nobleness, the best of a human being is in that ability to overcome.
If — Rudyard Kipling (written to his son)
If you can keep your head when all about you
Are losing theirs and blaming it on you,
If you can trust yourself when all men doubt you,
But make allowance for their doubting too;
If you can wait and not be tired by waiting,
Or being lied about, don’t deal in lies,
Or being hated, don’t give way to hating,
And yet don’t look too good, nor talk too wise:
If you can dream—and not make dreams your master;
If you can think—and not make thoughts your aim;
If you can meet with Triumph and Disaster
And treat those two impostors just the same;
If you can bear to hear the truth you’ve spoken
Twisted by knaves to make a trap for fools,
Or watch the things you gave your life to, broken,
And stoop and build ’em up with worn-out tools:
If you can make one heap of all your winnings
And risk it on one turn of pitch-and-toss,
And lose, and start again at your beginnings
And never breathe a word about your loss;
If you can force your heart and nerve and sinew
To serve your turn long after they are gone,
And so hold on when there is nothing in you
Except the Will which says to them: ‘Hold on!’
If you can talk with crowds and keep your virtue,
Or walk with Kings—nor lose the common touch,
If neither foes nor loving friends can hurt you,
If all men count with you, but none too much;
If you can fill the unforgiving minute
With sixty seconds’ worth of distance run,
Yours is the Earth and everything that’s in it,
And—which is more—you’ll be a Man, my son!