The poem by Edwina Gateley in my previous post set me thinking...
...thinking about the maternal nature of God's love.

Now, before some of you rear up or start bristling, I'm not about to say that God is female. But there again, I'm not going to say that God is male, either. Personally, I believe that God transcends gender - God encompasses both the perfect male and female characteristics - after all, how else could God create women and men?

And I promise that I will base some future posts around the paternal nature of God's love! But for now, because it is in the forefront of my mind, I'd like to think of some of the ways in which the Bible talks about the feminine side of God - and focus on one Bible passage in particular.

If you want to do some homework, then you might choose to look up these references in the Bible.

Deuteronomy 32:18 ...the God who gave you birth
Psalm 22:9&10 ...God as midwife
Isaiah 42:14 ...God crying out like a woman in labour
Isaiah 49:15 ...God compared with a nursing mother
Isaiah 66:13 ...God like a mother comforting her child
But my favourite passage on this subject has to be Psalm 131. Now you can approach this psalm in one of two ways (probably lots more, but I'm keeping to the things I know!). You can use the psalm to do a 'lectio divina' type of meditation - mulling and savouring. Or you can be more kataphatic and take your imagination for a little exercise - you can visualise being the weaned child at its mother's (God's) breast. I particularly like the fact that it says a 'weaned' child - not a colicky, fractious newborn, but a child who can smile, laugh and respond to its mother.

I once did a meditation based on this psalm when I was on a retreat at St Beuno's - curled up in a lovey comfortable armchair. It was a wonderful time of prayer for me and I will always remember it.

Enjoy the psalm.
Psalm 131

A song of ascents. Of David.

My heart is not proud, LORD,
my eyes are not haughty;
I do not concern myself with great matters
or things too wonderful for me.
But I have calmed myself
and quieted my ambitions.
I am like a weaned child with its mother;
like a weaned child I am content.

Israel, put your hope in the LORD
both now and forevermore.


Picture from www.allposters.co.uk Item #: 927500


Many blessings
 

8 comments

  1. Anonymous  

    16 February 2009 at 10:29

    God as a mother or father is difficult..........loving carer is better for me.....
    Powerful image if one can realte to it...cosy chair sounds brill...but not ready for this one yet.

  2. Kath  

    16 February 2009 at 12:33

    Hi Anon, Can you begin to imagine what a perfect mother or a perfect father might be like?

  3. Anonymous  

    17 February 2009 at 21:56

    I can imagine what a perfect mother and father is like...but God is not human so God would be higher or different than a parent so it's best for me to imagine something divine....
    my best image of God is a star or a large comfy safe armchair........hope that isn't irreverent for some people.
    People have never been safe so it's best if I don't associate God in my personal prayer time with people images...

  4. Kath Williamson  

    17 February 2009 at 22:05

    The Psalms have wonderful images of God - rock, fortress, shield. Psalm 3 is wonderul - my shield around me and the lifter of my head.

    Would images of animals and birds help?
    An eagle with its young?
    Deut 32:
    11As an eagle stirs up its nest,
    and hovers over its young;
    as it spreads its wings, takes them up,
    and bears them aloft on its pinions,
    12the Lord alone guided him (her).

  5. Anonymous  

    18 February 2009 at 20:49

    The eagle perspective has helped me because when I see birds of prey such as buzzards or kestrals hovering, they remind me of God and his wonderful creation - they seem so free and secure and are an image of perfection which I can relate to. Thank you for the guidance towards the Psalms and for sowing the seeds of other concepts of God - I struggle to imagine a perfect mother or father simply because there isn't such a thing in real life as what is perfect for one person wouldn't be perfect for another as we are all so very different individuals.

  6. Anonymous  

    7 December 2010 at 15:04

    Kath, thank you for your thoughts. I was unfamiliar with the term, let alone the meaning, kataphatic. However, that describes a recent time of discovery for me during study in scripture.

    Not long ago I took a look at a verse and saw it in a way, like this (kataphatically?), that I never would have except, I believe, by a nudge from the Paraclete. It is in 1 Peter chapter 5 verse 10. "But the God of all grace, Who hath called us unto His eternal glory by Christ Jesus, after that ye have suffered a while, make you perfect, stablish, strengthen, settle you."

    My mental picture was just this: of a babe with it's loving mother (although my vision of my Heavenly Father is strong and comforting, this was a new aspect of my relationship with Him revealed to me). When a baby is being born, it is squeezed and discomfitted coming through the birth canal. Mothers labors have a bruising effect on that wee one as well. What do we do? Clean up the muck, showing the beautiful baby, "perfect" it if you will, take it to Mama where it is "stablished" in her embrace, put to breast to be nourished and "strengthened", and then "settled" at her side. The Lord does that with us: birthed in Christ, and growing up as we abide with Him. And whose voice does a babe instinctively turn to? Mama's. Where does it seek sustenance and shelter? Mama. And that God would use these intimate (and in my experience loving, though my parents were far from perfect - and though I dearly love my child, I am not the mother I fully long to be) relationships to show how He cares for us warms me with it's contemplation.

    Although to some it may seem a stretch of imagination, to me it was a new and comforting thought.

    Blessings to you, Rachael

  7. Kath Williamson  

    7 December 2010 at 20:21

    Thank you for that picture, Rachael, it is very moving. I'm glad you are enjoying the blog.

  8. Dave Scott  

    9 May 2012 at 07:43

    Surely a weaned child is not at its mother's breast, no?