Sunday, May 11, 2008

Even God Has a Mother

That's one of the beautiful things about the Christian message, is it not?

Yes, I'm violating my Sunday no-blogging rule, but the title of this post popped into my head upon arising, and demanded that I explore its inner meaning, so here I am. I'll just go as long as I can until the boy wakes up.

The first thing that occurs to me is that the cosmos is intrinsically trinitarian in nature, and that the categories of Mother, Father, and Child all mutually co-arise and co-create one another. You often hear new age types complain about God being viewed as male, and while they have a point, they nevertheless get it all wrong, and project some ideal of human political equality into the godhead, as if we have to have some nagging and humorless feminist wife to rein in the authoritarian father and put him in his place.

No, God is male for a reason, and perhaps we'll get into that on Father's Day. Nevertheless, God had a mother, and that mother is beyond being to God's being. In this manner of understanding things, the mystery of the "outward" (or outword) God that we may know is surrounded by an even greater inner mysteress that we can only unKnow, and which "gives birth" to the former. This may or may not be kosher, but it is nevertheless implicit in the Christian economy, and in my opinion, why that economy has so much enduring resonance in the psyche. For we don't think it; it thinks us.

Certainly this was a preoccupation of Meister Eckhart, who was quite sensitive to the maternal aspects of the deity, and which help us to conceptualize what goes on beyond the veil of appearances within the divine plane. It is a way to think beyond ourselves, into the heart of being and even beyond. You can certainly look at it in a mythopoetic manner if you are so inclined, but the main point is that it should help you to think generatively and fruitfully about God, instead of merely staring at a blank wall across the Great Divide. For example,

I once had a dream. I dreamt that I, even though a man, was pregnant, pregnant and full with Nothingness like a woman who is with child. And out of this Nothingness God was born.


What is my name? What is your name? What is God's name? Our name is: that we must be born. And the Creator's name is: to bear. The soul alone among all creatures is generative like God is. We are all meant to be mothers of God.

Only mothers can give birth, and it has always been understood that the soul is feminine in respect to its relation to the God to which she paradoxically "gives birth." For to be born again from above is none other than to give birth to God down below. What else can it mean that Mary, the archetype of virginal, receptive matter (Mary, maya, mattress, and matter are all etymologically related), is fertilized by the word of God and gives human birth to the Son? That's not just history or mythology. That's a fact, easily verifiable by anyone with sincere aspiration and an open heart. Eckhart:

It is good for a person to receive God into himself or herself, and I call this receptivity the work of a virgin. But is it better when God becomes fruitful within a person.... I call such a person a wife, and in this sense the term wife is the noblest term we can give the soul... Every day such a person bears fruit a hundred times or a thousand times or countless times, giving birth and becoming fruitful out of the most noble foundation of all.


This birth takes place in darkness, the darkness of the divine womb. And not only is the Son of the heavenly Creator born into this darkness -- but you too are born there as a child of the same heavenly Creator. And the Creator extends this same power to you out of the divine maternity bed located in the Godhead to eternally give birth.

This is what it means for the soul to become "fruitfully pregnant," and you can most certainly know such souls by their fruit. For In this power of birthing, Gods is as fully verdant and as wholly flourishing in full joy as he is in himself.

Schuon describes it in similar terms: "[The] mystery of the Incarnation has two aspects, the Word, on the one hand, and the human receptacle, on the other: Christ and the Virgin-Mother. To be able to realize in itself this mystery, the soul must be like the Virgin; for just as the sun can be reflected in the water only when it is calm, so the soul can receive Christ only in virginal purity, in original simplicity, and not in sin, which is turmoil and disequilibrium."

Elsewhere he writes that "This purity -- the Marian state -- is the essential condition... for the spiritual actualization of the Real Presence of the Word." "The virginal perfections are purity, beauty, goodness, and humility; it is these qualities which the soul in quest of God must realize."

And by "mystery," Schuon does not mean "something incomprehensible"; rather, mystery is a mode of knowing that which transcends the human plane, and which is activated by the "negative capability" of faith, itself a "feminine" mode of cognition, being that it is actively passive and fully receptive.

(You will have gnoticed that all doctrinaire atheists have a crudely masculine form of cognition, which is in turn passive to "the world." Ironically, this means that their minds are "fertilized" not by the Word, but by matter or maya. In other words, they are like pregnant men, which is an abomination in every sense of the word.)

A mystery -- which is always a shadow of the divine mysteress hersoph -- is "something which opens on to the Infinite, or which is envisaged in this respect, so that intelligibility becomes limitless and humanly inexhaustible."

Who could say it isn't so, except for a poor motherless child?

From all eternity God lies on a maternity bed giving birth. The essence of God is birthing. --Meister Eckhart (all Eckhart quotes taken from Meditations With Meister Eckhart)

Well, I wish I had time to say more, but I must take over childcare duties so that the house Mother can attend mass. But every time I look at that boy, I am grateful for the palpable evidence of the Divine Motherlove that flows downhill into God, man, and back up again.

There is nothing which is more necessary and more precious in the experience of human childhood than parental love.... nothing more precious, because the parental love experienced in childhood is moral capital for the whole of life.... It is so precious, this experience, that it renders us capable of elevating ourselves to more sublime things--even divine things. It is thanks to the experience of parental love that our soul is capable of raising itself to the love of God. --Meditations on the Tarot
May you grow up to be righteous / May you grow up to be true / May you always know the truth / And see the light surrounding you --Bob Dylan, Forever Young


walt said...

Happy Mother's Day, Mrs. G!

walt said...

And Bob: a beautifully written post! Thanks so much!

Gagdad Bob said...

Truly inspired: Hillary's last days in the bunker.

Robin Starfish said...

pink apple blossoms
taproot anchored in black loam
happy mothers day

Anonymous said...

I'm so grateful and amazed to be a mother. I'm going to print out the quote from Meditations on the Tarot and put it in my datebook. I pray everyday for guidance on how to be the right mother to Tristan, and that quote is a wonderful reminder of why I should try so hard.

Thanks Bob for enabling me to be a good enough mother.

My mother's day prayer is for Tristan to someday know how deep my faith and devotion is to God and for that to give him a grounding for his own faith.

Thanks Walt. And happy mother's day to you and your mothers, wives, and daughters,

julie said...

Happy Mother's day, Leslie!

And Bob, there you go again, thinking my thoughts before I've actually properly thunk'em; that's definitely the direction I was ambling towards this past week, though I didn't quite realize it.

Gecko said...

Happy Mother's Day Leslie, and thank you always Bob for the generosity of the daily bread that you provide.

River Cocytus said...

Happy Mothers day to Leslie, my mom, and all moms within eyeshot.

"What is my name? What is your name? What is God's name? Our name is: that we must be born. And the Creator's name is: to bear. The soul alone among all creatures is generative like God is. We are all meant to be mothers of God."

What popped into my head was the title of a particular saint: Ignatius the God-bearer of Antioch.

Also, I couldn't help but think of what the mother of our church wrote:

"The Angel Cried"

....The next verse of the hymn goes, "Shine, Shine, Shine O new Jerusalem!" In these lines, the angel is still speaking to the Theotokos. The Virgin Mary is the "new Jerusalem", just as she is the Ark of the Covenant and the Burning Bush; she is the place chosen by God of all the earth where his glory would reside. "Shine, O new Jerusalem!" "Exult, O Sion!" "Be radiant, O pure Theotokos!" Our mother the Virgin Mary is all these things...

Our archdiocese has some more stuff about it (warning: PDF.)

Er, just wanted to interject. I haven't finished the post yet...

River Cocytus said...

Great post, by the way.

What interests me, is the masculine connotation of 'create' and the feminine of 'birth'. In reality, God is beyond gender completely, and so God being Father (and not mother) says something intrinsic about us, and not so much about God.

USS Ben USN (Ret) said...

Happy Mom's Day Mrs. G!
And to all of you Raccoon Mom's out there with littl;e or big kits. :^)

Bob said...

What a wonderful ending to a beautiful post.