Guest Post: A Mother There. And Here

by Melody

In the heav’ns are parents single? No, the thought makes reason stare! Truth is reason; truth eternal tells me I’ve a mother there. ~ Eliza R. Snow

 

Part 1

The Motherless Child

My first concrete experience of the divine feminine happened about twenty years ago when I was mourning the loss of my mom. This mourning was not about her physical death, but about the tragic absence of her “self” from her own existence and subsequently from my existence as her child. She had been unable to mother me in ways that are essential for healthy human development. This is only part of the story. The other part involves a man (my father) who was partially responsible for my mother’s early demise. You can read about those things sometime if you choose—at this site.

As a grown woman with young children of my own, I found myself at a certain time of life, working to fill the void left by my mother’s absence and my father’s destructive actions toward me during my childhood. There were times when I simply couldn’t reach in prayer for a “father” because of negative associations with my mortal father. Naturally, the next best place to find divine help for me as a devout Christian was in a loving brother-savior, Jesus Christ. Like so many others, I found comfort, healing, hope and redemption through the Savior’s grace. But I also found an unexpected link to my Heavenly Mother. Because, you know, an older brother can only do so much. Sometimes you just need your heavenly mom.

So, occasionally I prayed to Heavenly Mother. Now, I have to admit, initially I felt somewhat heretical or blasphemous for praying to a female God. But at that point I was in such dire need of a parent that I didn’t care about real or imagined repercussions. Besides, in my heart I knew she was there and would respond to me, as any mother would. As I prayed I felt distinct awareness of both heavenly parents, or at least, distinctly masculine and feminine energies listening and watching over me. I continued to address Heavenly Mother for several months and received answers to my prayers, comfort via the Holy Spirit and via the Savior’s atoning love. This new found freedom to bond with a divine maternal presence played a prominent role in keeping me connected to my heavenly home during a heart-rending time of life. Not only was I not punished for seeking Her, I was richly rewarded. She truly became my Heavenly Mother—as familiar and real to me as my Heavenly Father had always been.

This period laid a firm foundation in my heart and mind. As I went on with life it became abundantly clear that praying to Father or Mother made little difference to them. They are one as parents. They are one in spirit, might, power, glory and love. I sincerely believe that our parents in heaven do not care to whom our prayers are directed. They only care that we are connected to them. Very often these days my prayers are directed simply to God and for me this includes both parents.

[I must add here that throughout my life Jesus Christ has been the one to whom I have prayed in my greatest moments of distress. This has happened without aforethought in times when I have been so distraught I felt I couldn’t bear the burdens life required of me. Usually amid sobs and pleas for comfort, I instinctively and intuitively cry out for Jesus. This is as it should be. He is, after all, the one who saves us in this world and from its effects.]

 

Bridal Veil Falls

Bridal Veil Falls

Part 2

Mother Earth

Once this foundation was laid I noticed how, every now and then, specific promptings, impressions and moments of enlightenment seemed to have a distinctively feminine feel. One particular time was while I sat at the base of Bridal Veil Falls in Provo Canyon, Utah. This is a well-known scenic spot in my community and is often crowded with visitors—cyclist, runners, and people taking casual strolls up and down the paved Provo River Parkway Trail. Those of us who frequent the trail often stop to take in the breathtaking beauty of the falls. “Back in the day” there was far less traffic and a nice patch of lawn bordered the trail. Unfortunately, the grass isn’t there anymore due to snow slides and alterations in the terrain over the last two decades. But it used to be there. And it was a place of frequent meditation for me.

 

On one such day I again felt a longing for Mother, for a maternal presence in my life. The trail was unusually devoid of passers-by. I sat down on the grass, stretched my legs out in front of me, leaned back on my hands and gazed up at the falls. The air was clear and a little cool. Listening to the sound of water and wind, feeling occasional mist on my face, I heard, or rather, felt something in my heart that was almost like a lullaby. Heavenly Mother seemed to be everywhere in the earth around me. It felt like music. Her music. A poem formed in my mind as I sat there. It is simple. But in these few words, again, Heavenly Mother came to me in Her way.

 

Missing God

 

I don’t

remember

her voice

 

but sometimes

in the mountains

 

I think I hear

an echo

of the flute

she played.

 

Part 3

Melody and Luke

Melody and Luke

This is My Beloved Son

My son, Luke, married his Rachel two years ago. I could go on and on about what an awesome person Luke is. I could make jokes about how I take credit for most of that since, well, you know, he was made out of cells from my own body. Of course once he was old enough to tell me those cells had all been replaced hundreds or thousands of times (depending on the specific tissue) and that they are now all his very own cells, my claim to vicarious fame went out the window.

Shortly after the wedding I did what every mother does: I looked through photographs and came upon this one. It’s easy to see his father in him because, well, they are both male. The characteristics Luke shares with me, a woman, may be less obvious, but they are unmistakable. His DNA bears witness of that truth; the shape of his eyes and eyelids, his teeth, the thin upper lip and fuller lower lip—these are all characteristics that came from his mother.

But the most astounding thing I discovered when I looked at this photograph was something much more subtle. I had never seen it before. You may not even see it here in this small picture, but when I viewed this photograph on my computer for the first time my eyes went directly to Luke’s nose. It has a slightly asymmetrical tip, with the left side being a little higher than the right. Then I looked at my own nose in the photo. I felt the tip of my nose with my fingers and got up from where I was sitting to look in a mirror. I was surprised to discover that the same subtle asymmetry exists in my nose. In fact, it’s identical. That nose tip. I had never noticed this about myself and this surprised me. The next time I saw him I showed Luke the photo and he said, “Yeah, I’ve always known my nose had that slight uplift on the left. That came from you?”

The shape of one’s nose might mean little to someone else, but that day, once again, I had an unexpected and profound witness about how I know Heavenly Mother is there: She sent her son, Her beloved son.

The Savior refers to his Father over and over again throughout his mortal ministry. He never once mentions his Mother God. We can all make suppositions about why this is. But for the purpose of this essay, frankly, the reasons don’t matter. What matters to me is this: As surely as my son bears resemblance to me in his mannerisms, his smile, and in that subtle up-shift on the left side of the tip of his nose, so does our brother and Savior, Jesus Christ resemble his mother.

He has asked us to look to him to know our Father and his Father, our God and his God. (John 20:17) Truthfully, it is He whom I credit with my understanding of Mother God as well.  My relationship with Him and my belief in His promise that we may know the truth of all things (Moroni 10:5) gave me faith and courage to move outside the norms of my own religious culture when I first prayed for help from Heavenly Mother. His promise of redemption gave me faith that no matter what I needed to do, I could indeed work out my own salvation with fear and trembling before Him. (Moroni 9:27) Each person must find the truth in his or her own way. Perhaps just as no man cometh to the father except by Him (JST John 6:44)—no woman cometh to the mother except by Him. If we are to know the true nature of God, perhaps we can best know Her through Her son who came to dwell among us. That’s how it was for me anyway. I found Her because I first knew Him.   

(cross posted at rationalfaiths.com) 

Melody Newey earns a living as a registered nurse and lives to write. Her poems have appeared in Segullah,Utah Sings Vol VIII and Utah Voices 2012. She owns her history — the beautiful parts and not-so-beautiful parts. She writes about all of it.

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16 Responses

  1. Caroline says:

    Absolutely beautiful, Melody. I love this thoughtful recounting of how you have come to know, love, and embrace the Mother. I’ve felt for some time now that God could never blame us for reaching up to divinity, in whatever form that takes. Thank you for sharing these inspiring reflections.

  2. Rachel says:

    I love this, Melody.

    You are not alone in recognizing that earthly sons may resemble their earthly mothers, and that it may mean divine sons resemble their divine mothers. A woman named Kathryn H. Shirts is another who has thought about this.

    From a paper I once wrote:

    “When Jesus’ disciple asked to be shown the Father, Jesus replied, ‘Have I been so long time with you, and yet hast thou not known me, Philip? he that hath seen me hath seen the Father.’ Shirts wonders, ‘When we ask about the Mother, might not the Lord give us a similar reply? ‘He that hath seen me hath seen the Mother,’ for ‘if we as Mormons are going to assert the existence of a female Deity, shouldn’t we assume that her Son mirrors her perfection as well as that of the Father?’ Moreover, ‘Just as the scriptures describe the Savior using both male and female imagery, the scriptures insist that God is serious about women identifying with Christ…There are important differences between the Savior and ourselves to be overcome during our mortal existence, but gender is not one of them. Being female is not something we have to repent of.’

    …do women only receive traits from Heavenly Mother, or may they receive traits from Heavenly Father as well? In turn, do men only receive traits from the Father, or may they receive traits from the Mother? It is possible to imagine a child with her mother’s eye color and father’s hair color, with a mixture of both parents’ temperaments. Is it not possible to imagine a child inheriting spiritual traits from each of her Heavenly Parents?”

    • Melody says:

      Yes! Thank you, Rachel. And thank you so much for including the excerpt. . . perfect expression of this idea, in the Savior’s own words, no less. It’s incredibly reassuring to know that the concept (of divine male AND female parental inheritance) is out there; that you and others have already come to this conclusion. It was a powerful moment for me. Thank you again.

      • Rachel says:

        You are welcome. Shirts quote (and the corresponding idea) were really powerful for me to come across and think about too. The more I reflect on it, the more true it seems. Your personal example was likewise powerful.

        Just as I believe that both Heavenly Father and Heavenly Mother sent Christ to the world for us, because They love us, I believe that He represents both of Them.

  3. Jess says:

    Woah, this just blew my mind. I have never made that connection before. What a beautiful, beautiful thing! Thank you so much.

  4. Elle says:

    This has soothed my soul. Thank you so much.

  5. Emily U says:

    You reminded me of that powerful spiritual (a lament, really),

    Sometimes I feel like a motherless child
    Sometimes I feel like a motherless child
    Sometimes I feel like a motherless child

    A long ways from home

    Then I get down on my knees and pray,
    Get down on my knees and pray.

    Sometimes I feel like I’m almost gone
    Sometimes I feel like I’m almost gone
    Sometimes I feel like I’m almost gone

    A long ways from home

    Then I get down on my knees and pray,
    Get down on my knees and pray.

    Thanks for sharing how She has been there for you in prayer.

  6. EmilyCC says:

    I think this should be a sacrament talk, Melody. I love this part, in particular.” Not only was I not punished for seeking Her, I was richly rewarded. She truly became my Heavenly Mother—as familiar and real to me as my Heavenly Father had always been.”

    I have a son named Luke, too, so I particularly love this last part. The idea of seeing Jesus’ characteristics as being those of our Heavenly Mother is so profound. Thank you.

    • Rachel says:

      Amen to the Sacrament talk idea. 🙂

      • Melody says:

        Thanks for the vote of confidence in me and in my ward! But since I spoke last week, I think it’ll be a while. [Maybe by then, we’ll all be ready for a public address devoted entirely to Heavenly Mother. Let’s hope.]

  7. Suzette Smith says:

    What a great post! Like those who have commented before me, I also really love the lines you draw between seeing yourself subtly in your son – and realizing the subtle ways in which we are like God – both Father and Mother.

  8. Libby says:

    Melody, I’m convinced that different people in my life have specific resemblances to our Father and Mother in Heaven, and that those are the things that draw me to them. How I love this essay. Thank you.

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