Sunday, May 13, 2018

Are We All Mothers?

Here we are at Mother's Day, that huge festival where we celebrate Mom--with flowers, brunch, and a gift.  But what about the rest of the year?

I am not the first person to note that we can tell a lot about a society, or an organization or a person, by looking at where it spends its money.  In the U.S., we are not a culture that celebrates mothers much at all.  We certainly don't do much where it counts.  If you don't believe me, ask a mother about leave policies at her work place.  Ask about childcare if its needed at odd hours.  Ask about schools and how they're funded.

As a church, how well do we celebrate mothers?  Do we mention them on Mother's Day and Christmas Eve and not much in between?

We talk about God as Father.  In some churches, we don't leave room for many other metaphors.  But how about God as Mother?

I'm thinking about nurturing of all kinds, the kinds we get from our families, the kinds we get from our friends, the kinds of nurturing we might get at work and school.

How well do we nurture each other at church?

I'm fairly sure we do a good job nurturing each other through life's big crises.  Most churches still know how to help people who have lost a loved one.  We celebrate weddings and births.

But what about what happens in between?

We're never really done trying to balance all these demands of nurture, both the nurture of ourselves, our children, and all the people who cross our paths.  We're not done as a church either, but it's easier to keep ourselves aloof.

On Mother's Day, I'm thinking about some of the mothers I've known best, my own mother and my sister. I'm also thinking of my friends who are mothers--and my friends who have yearned to be mothers, those who were able to have a child by some means, and those who never could.

I'm also thinking of us all, of mothers in a much larger sense.  I'm thinking that so many jobs these days include a fair amount of nurturing.  There's the traditional nurturing jobs:  teaching, nursing, care providing of all sorts.  But there are other jobs where we must nurture:  environmentalists need to nurture the planet, administrators need to nurture staff, on and on I could go.

But let me not dismiss the difficult work of parenting.  The work I do as an administrator, teacher, and a writer are miniscule acts of nurturing compared to a human who is responsible for a human life embodied in a child.  As I said earlier, those nurturers get very little support in our current community.  Under our current administration, I worry it's about to get much harder for the parents among us.

So, on this day that encourages us to spend gobs of money on mothers, let us also remember to spend some time visioning the world we want to inhabit.  Perhaps we could also send some money to groups that help foster that vision.  Perhaps we could write letters. 

Let us strengthen our resolve to support in every way those who parent--and let us carry that resolve through the next 364 days too.

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