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I came across this hymn “Mothering God, You Gave Me Birth” written by Jean Janzen (1991) and based on text from the 14th Century mystic Julian of Norwich.
Mothering God, you gave me birth
in the bright morning of this world.
Creator, source of every breath,
you are my rain, my wind, my sun.
Mothering Christ, you took my form,
offering me your food of light,
grain of new life, and grape of love,
your very body for my peace.
Mothering Spirit, nurturing one,
in arms of patience hold me close,
so that in faith I root and grow
until I flow’r, until I know.
The beauty and simplicity of Janzen's lyrics were part of the inspiration for this week’s Mother’s Day litany. I know that there are many for whom motherhood is a painful subject. I wanted to create space here for those who are not mothers but wish they were, for those for whom motherhood has caused pain, for those whose mothers were unhealthy or hurtful, for those who have lost mothers or children, and for those who don't aspire to motherhood.
There are also those of us women who grew up in churchy contexts who were taught that motherhood was the pinnacle of our aspirations in life. That woman = husband + child. That somehow, on our own we were unworthy of existence. So I also want to create space for those who have had to do battle against those ideas. You are worthy of the loving nurture of God; God's eye is on mothers and non-mothers and non-traditional mothers alike.
Great Mother God
Who created mothers
And invented mothering,
Mother us now:
Into your peace and comfort,
Into your nurturing love,
Into the kindness of your presence,
Into the shadow of your wings.
We know that mothering takes many forms,
And is done by many kinds of people
In different ways and situations;
Give us the wisdom of your mother-heart.
We know that love is risky:
There’s always the possibility of pain,
The risk of disappointment or loss.
Give us the courage of your mother-heart.
We bring to you the cares of the brokenhearted.
We bring to you the pain of the disappointed.
We bring to you the hardship of the overwhelmed.
We bring to you the ache of the separated.
Teach us the worth of our own souls,
And the value of our existence.
Give us your mother-love:
To heal us,
To nourish us,
To share freely with the world.