As a baby of the 80’s and a child of the 90’s, I was ten when The Family: A Proclamation to the World came out. So you might think I learned about Heavenly Mother rather early, because after all, it does have that one line about “heavenly parents.” But you would be wrong. Individuals around me gave little pause to that line, so I didn’t either.
Then there is Eliza’s famous hymn, about “truth” and “reason” and “a Mother there” (meaning in heaven). While this has become one of my favorite hymns, I cannot for the life of me remember how old I was when I first sung it, or heard it sung. I did however, learn when I was 28, that when I was 18, it was played at my grandfather’s funeral, because it was one of his favorite hymns. But, it was played on a violin by my master violin playing uncle, and words were not accompanied.
So when did I first realize that God is also a woman, like me? When I was 19, sitting by myself in the Marriot Center at Brigham Young University for a forum (read: not a devotional). The speaker was a poet, named Li-Young Lee.
He read his poems to us. Before one poem he paused to remark on our opening hymn and our opening prayer. He noticed that the pronoun we used for God was masculine: He. He. He. And then he introduced a poem he wrote about God, called “Living With Her.”
Lee read it two times. Once the way he originally wrote it, and once the way we might have, with the female pronouns replaced with male. The first:
She opens her eyes
and I see.
She counts the birds and I hear
the names of the months and days.
A girl, one of her names
is Change. And my childhood
lasted all of an evening.
Called light, she breathes, my living share
of every moment emerging.
Called life, she is a pomegranate
pecked clean by birds to entirely
become a part of their flying.
Do you love me? she asks.
I love you,
she answers, and the world keeps beginning.
The last three lines of his poem, with his words, made me cry. As they still do, on the nights I read them to myself when I can’t sleep. I remember that they marked the exact moment I began to consider God as female.
Please share how you learned about Heavenly Mother in the comments. Was it from a parent? A teacher at church? From a poem, like me? Etc.