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Mothering God

“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.” —Jean Janzen, “mothering God,” (Evangelical Lutheran Worship 735)

by Megan Jones

I recently celebrated a birthday. I am now older than I have ever been before, funny how that works. While many say, with age comes wisdom, the only thing I seem to know for sure is that there is very little I know for sure. So dear readers, consider this an invitation into mutual exploration and wondering about our rela­tionship with God and with one another. Our conversa­tion will be shaped by the words of Jean Janzen’s hymn “Mothering God” which itself was inspired by the writings of medieval nun and mystic Julian of Norwich:
“To motherhood as properties belong natural love, wisdom and knowledge—and this is God. For though it is true that our bodily bringing forth is very little, low, and simple compared to our spiritual bringing forth, yet it is he who does the mothering in the creatures by whom it is done.”

In the spring of my 12th year I had the privilege of watching a mama robin care for her three babies. Robin, as I named her, built her nest on the window ledge of my second-story bedroom. I was thrilled when she first appeared. The sight of her beautiful blue eggs was beyond exciting.

I watched as Robin’s babies broke through their shells, clearly an exhausting adventure. Though there is nothing all that cute about their skinny grey bodies and their big bulging eyes I thought they were adorable and fell in love instantly. I have to believe Robin felt the same way as she spent every moment caring for them. She covered them with her body and kept a watchful eye on the world around her, leaving only to gather food for her quickly growing family.

I spent hours watching them. They were so help­less. And for the first two to three weeks of their lives, their mother was every­thing. They could not survive without her. The nest she built was shelter, not meant to keep them from the world. It was a shelter that prepared them for the world.

The Rev. Megan Jones is an ELCA pastor on leave from call. She lives in Chicago, is a voracious reader, and a lover of team trivia. She cares for three English Springer Spaniels.

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