Heavenly Mother’s Day: Carol Lynn Pearson & The Interfaith Search For The Divine Feminine

Here we are, approaching Mother’s Day 2015, filling the-Exponent.com with stories of Heavenly Mother. We testify of Her love. We wonder aloud about Her existence, about Her place in our lives and in the heavens. Many of us address Her when we pray. Some of us have visions of Her.

Yet, we may not all realize that we are able to see these visions, at least in part, because we are standing on the shoulders of giants–women and men who have wondered aloud about our Mother God since before some of us were born.

Among these giants, especially in the LDS community, is one woman in particular who firmly and fearlessly pushed open the heavy door to Heavenly Mother’s chambers and let the light spill out on all of us: Carol Lynn Pearson, poet, playwright, philosopher, author, sister in Christ.

In 1989, Carol Lynn gave us the incomparable gift of Mother Wove the Morning. If you have not read or seen this play, you can find information about it here. Twice during the play’s first run, I was privileged to watch Carol Lynn perform her beautiful and painful work of art. Her poetry and music – born from her woman’s heart – spoke to me in ways nothing previously had. I began my own journey home to Mother, in part, as a result of Carol Lynn’s courage.

But Sister Pearson was not alone. Other faithful women and men had also begun to wonder about and to search for our Heavenly Mother. Among sponsers of her play were Catholics, Evangelicals, Presbyterians, Unitarians, Congregationalists, the United Church of Christ and Unity. When Carol Lynn performed Mother Wove the Morning around the U.S. and internationally she found a nearly universal hunger for the Divine Feminine among clergy and lay people of all faiths. She wrote about this discovery and presented her findings at the Mormon Women’s Forum Counterpoint Conference on April 28, 1993, in a paper titled The Interfaith Search For The Divine Feminine. You may read the paper in its entirety here. And I strongly encourage you to do it. Make it a Heavenly Mother’s Day gift to yourself!

As I read this paper I found myself, once again, grounded in the truth of the existence of a God who looks like me. A feminine form (or at least a form of deity) who understands what it means to be a woman in the world, with all the vulnerabilities and strengths that my sex possesses.

In her paper, Carol Lynn sites examples of monumental paradigm shifts in the Roman Catholic Church, specifically when it finally admitted that the earth revolves around the sun and not the other way around. She suggests there is room even now for all of us, regardless of our religious affiliation, to question our long-held beliefs about the nature of God. In the paper, she expresses her own deep understanding of Heavenly Mother and she asks us to consider many ideas brought to her by people of other faiths. She quotes Dr. Brian Wren, a minister in the United Reformed Church in England:

[Patriarchy] distorts our vision of God by seeing the divine life exclusively through male eyes and depicting God in the image of male dominance.  This implies that the other half of humanity, created co-equally in God’s image and likeness, is not fit to depict that divine life. (Wren, 55)

And:

 The impassioned resistance to the very idea of speaking of God in female terms is linked with patriarchal culture’s disvaluing of the “feminine.” If the structure of patriarchy, and its disvaluing of the “feminine,” are brought to light, I suspect that some will reaffirm the patriarchal order, but that many will be willing to follow the implications of their conviction that women and men are created as coequals in the image of God. (Wren, 135)

She reminds us of the original title for the hymn, Oh, My Father, often sung in LDS sacrament meetings on Mother’s Day: Invocation to the Divine Father and Mother.

For me, the most powerful message Sister Pearson shared in this paper was her belief, (a belief I firmly share) that we, as Latter-day Saints and friends of Mormonism, have a unique and compelling reason to be forerunners in the continued opening of the door to our Mother and Father in Heaven’s home. Carol Lynn’s words still resound in my ears:

“That clear and profound revelation, taught by the Prophet Joseph Smith to Eliza R. Snow, to Zina Diantha Huntington and to others, is in place and will remain in place, and will expand and roll forward to bless the lives of the Latter-day Saints and of others in the world.  And it will happen not because we’ve got to keep up with the Episcopalians, not because of the irritant of conferences like this one and articles in “Sunstone” and “Dialogue” and “Exponent II” and the “Mormon Women’s Forum Newsletter,”  and not because of letters Carol Lynn Pearson and others have written to the Brethren–though irritants do produce pearls.  It will happen, finally, because of the tremendous innate goodness of the Mormon people, the followers and the leaders, female and male, who will respond simply because this is the right thing to do and we want to do the right thing.” – Caroly Lynn Pearson

This is my simple prayer today: Dear Father, Mother God, please bless us to do the right thing.

::

Please feel free to share in comments below any experiences you’ve had with the idea of Heavenly Mother or of a Divine Feminine Being. We’d love to hear from you.

 

Melody

Melody earns a living as a registered nurse, grows a respectable garden, and writes when she's not building sheet forts with her grandkids. Her poetry has appeared in on-line journals, Segullah, Irreantum and small press along the Wasatch Front.

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10 Responses

  1. Jason K. says:

    Thanks for this, Melody!

  2. Caroline says:

    Wonderful post, Melody. Carol Lynn Pearson’s work was formative in my own interest and thoughts about the divine feminine. Her poem, “I Live in a Motherless House” just hit me in the gut when I read it 10 years ago. And I had no idea that Mother Wove the Mormon was sponsored by so many others of different faiths! I love knowing that. A huge thanks to you, Melody, for highlighting Pearson and to Pearson herself for her tireless and thoughtful efforts to bring forward discussion on the divine feminine.

  3. Pepper S. says:

    This is so great! At the very beginning of my feminist awakening I had a dream (ok, a vision) that I was standing in the snow on my back porch looking out over my husband’s garden. It was bitter cold and the garden was dead and frozen under a good 8 inches of snow. But as I watched, purple irises started blooming up from under the snow. For whatever reason, I knew that these flowers growing in my husband’s dead vegetable garden were for *me* and it filled me with such exquisite joy. As I’ve meditated on this through the years, I’ve realized that that is just how our Mother in heaven feels as she watches her daughters awaken to their true worth and potential and finally begin to seek her out. I know that we’ll do the right thing 🙂 Sooner or later.

    • Melody says:

      Pepper S, thank you for sharing this beautiful experience with us. You’re vision is so perfect and hopeful – for all of us.

  4. Jenny says:

    Great post Melody. I love that the whole world is coming to a consciousness of the divine feminine. I am greatful to people like Carol Lynn Pearson who, through essays and artistic mediums, have sought to bring Her out of obscurity. My life is blessed because others had the courage to do the right thing and speak of her despite cultural taboos, giving me the desire and courage to know and speak of Her too.

    • Melody says:

      You’re a courageous woman, Jenny. So glad you’re here and thank you for your insightful comment.

  5. Maxine H. says:

    Melody — thank you for your typically thoughtful, conscientious, lovely writing.

    You;re right about Carol Lynn’s work on the Mother as formative in contemporary Mormonism.
    Her writings were the first to introduce me to the Mother (other than the one line in Oh My Father),
    way back in the mid-1970s. I loved CLP’s books, so I made a pilgrimage to meet her in 1974.
    Her feminist writings and references to the Mother precede others in the 2nd Wave, who surfaced in 1979-80 (like Linda Sillitoe, Linda Wilcox, and Exponent II). Carol Lynn talked of the Mother in

    1973 Daughters of Light, “The Family of Light” poem
    1975 The Flight and The Nest, references to the Mother
    1976 The Growing Season (poems “American Family” and “The Family of Light”)
    1977 “My Turn on Earth,” refs to Mother and her voice
    1980 The Motherless House” poem and “Letters From a Motherless House” ms.
    1983 A Widening View poems “Blessing” and “Parent Friends” and “Within”
    1986 refs in “Goodbye, I Love You”
    1989 the play Mother Wove the Morning
    and many other poems, speeches, papers, articles, texts since the 1980s….

    I approached her in 1982 to publish her poem, the Motherless House in 7th East Press, but she wasn’t ready yet; however, ten years later, she let me publish it for the first time in Women and Authority.

    I’ve always seen Carol Lynn as an embodiment of the Mother figure, among us.
    She has certainly mothered and mentored me, as a feminist, and writer since I was a teen.

  1. May 4, 2015

    […] Heavenly Mother’s Day: Carol Lynn Pearson & The Interfaith Search For The Divine Feminine […]

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