I was recently lent an amazing book called “Motherhood and God”.  Written by Margaret Hebblethwaite and published in 1984, it’s one of those books you wish you’d always known about.  (Thank you to SW & CW for the loan!)

I’ve actually barely started it, but it’s totally enveloped me.  There is some beautiful writing, striking imagery and truth and integrity bursting from every page.  I’ve been getting annoyed with my husband, TSTIAI, for taking forever to read Shane Claiborne’s “Jesus for President”, but he tells me that he just needs to keep stopping and mulling over (for a looooong time) every few paragraphs because the book just says so much.  Which is great, as it’s clearly a great book, but also infuriating because I want to read it NOW!  Anyway, here’s a public apology for my impatience, because in “Motherhood and God” I’m having an equivalent experience.  I’m on page 25, and already I’ve had enough ‘stop and think’ moments, or even ‘blown away by profundity’ moments I could spend the next month just blogging on what those few pages have stirred up.  As I said, it’s an amazing book.

If we are God’s children it might be helpful to imagine ourselves sometimes as in her womb.  There could not be a closer image of warmth, security and protection.  There we have all our needs provided for in perfect measure, as the baby receives oxygen and nourishment without deficiency or excess through the umbilical cord.  In God’s womb we can stretch and turn in every direction, just as the baby, suspended in water, is as happy upside down as the right way up, and in the early months can exercise its limbs freely.  Wherever God our mother takes us we will be safe and provided for; whether in cold or heat, storm or drought, we will be protected.  Wherever we journey to we will still be at home, for the presence of our mother’s body is closer to us than our geographical location.  God is closer to us than the ground we stand on.  Even though we have never seen our mother, perhaps are quite unaware of her, or even deny her existence, she is in perfect and constant intimacy with us, and when we are born into the light of her presence we will recognise that she has been with us all along.

When I first read this, I found it so moving, and such a perfect analogy in many ways of how we travel through this life.  Perhaps like me you were initially jarred, or even shocked, by the author referring to God as mother.  I’ve been reflecting on this and wondering why, since both male and female are both in God’s likeness and so presumably it is potentially as valid to think of God as Father or Mother.  I love thinking of God as my daddy, but this passage expressed an aspect of God that is perhaps glossed over. 

And yes, to know that I’m being mothered and fathered by the loving God does make me feel safe.  Being hemmed in by God, as in Psalm 139, is a wonderful thing.