Reading Mother Wove the Morning

Nine years ago, I sat in a graduate seminar dedicated to studying female writers of the English Renaissance. Our professor asked us to consider what it was like for women in England to lose the figure of Mother Mary as the state converted to Protestantism. Was Elizabeth I a comfort to them during this transition, as was her middle way in allowing people to privately hold to their beliefs? Yes, I thought so. But the question sat on the edge of my mind. This was BYU, and growing up in the Mormon Church, I had never thought about what it would be like to have a divine female to pray to, and much less to lose one. How could I imagine that losing Mary as a central figure would upset anyone?

Only years later, as I sat listening to a woman describe the mechanics of being a good mother in my faith tradition: of ironing men’s clothing, of window washing, of brushing children’s hair, did I come to realize what I had lost by not having a powerful female image to have as my role model. And only then did I begin the un-numbing, the burn of waking up to realize the sharp inner pain I had been deep-sleeping to avoid: As a woman in my church, I was a daughter in a motherless house.

My body seems to remember the anniversary of awakening to this pain, and when it comes close to the time of year when I began my feminist awakening, I am surprised that I can feel the keen sharpness of the feminine wound again. The first time this happened, I almost didn’t make it out of the dark canyon of depression to find the joy waiting me on the other side. This pain is huge. If you haven’t felt it but wonder what it’s like, I refer you to Sue Monk Kidd’s memoir on the subject. So as I begin to feel the fresh pain of my feminine wound, I realize that despite my previous awakening, all is not all right with the world and women’s place in it. I worry that if I allow myself to feel this wound again, it might swallow me up this time. I need comforting. I need mothering.

Mother Wove the Morning: A One-Woman PlayLast week I purchased Carol Lynn Pearson’s Mother Wove the Morning as part of a fundraiser for and moved it to the top of my list. I read the play in one evening, and let it soothe my wounds. It has seemed to gently pick me up and lay me across my Mother’s lap. As each woman told her story of the Divine Feminine, I felt my Mother comforting me, stroking my hair, telling me She is here, and I am not alone.

This play didn’t let me off easy. The cast members don’t hide from the reality of the feminine wound. The introduction remembers the 100,000,000 missing girls and women who have been killed or left to die for no other reason than because they are female. And only then Pearson begins to weave her tale, inviting women throughout the ages to surface to describe their female experience, to talk about the glories of connecting with a God who looks like them, and to describe the wounds they have received at the hands of those who would remove the balance of the feminine from our understanding of God. One by one, these women paraded through my mind and my living room where I sat nursing my baby, telling me their stories about their connection to the Divine.

I stayed up late to finish it, even though I had to get up early for work the next morning. I placed my baby in my lap, and let him grab at the pages while I read the words of Rachel, Leah’s sister, and I laughed at her ability to turn her “curse” into a life-saving (and goddess-saving) tactic. During my son’s cluster feedings, Emma Smith told me of her journey and displayed such faithfulness and regret at the same time that she reminded me of myself. How Emma ached to ask her Heavenly Mother what it was like to experience pain in eternal marriage. And as I finished the play and felt a warm sense of comfort and companionship, I heard my sleeping baby laugh. I looked down at him as he stretched across my lap. He was laughing in his dreams. Maybe he was dreaming about his joy in his Mother who he so recently left, and maybe he laughed with joy as he realized I was entering a new dawn and remembering Her too.


Alisa is a professional adult educator and corporate manager who enjoys spending time with her husband and son.

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5 Responses

  1. CatherineWO says:

    Thank you, Alisa, for your heart-felt words. I too feel that gut-wrenching ache for the love of a female god. It hit me hardest when my earthly mother died nine years ago. That began my search for the Eternal Mother who is so missing. Sue Monk Kidd’s book encouraged me in that search as well. My copy of “Mother Wove the Morning” is on its way. I can hardly wait to devour it.

  2. Janna says:

    Our perception of the Mother is primarily defined by earthly views of the female as a source of comforting and caregiving (all wonderful aspects). I find this viewpoint limiting.

    To me, all the more reason for us to seek the Mother out to learn who she really is.

    • Alisa says:

      I won’t disagree with you about the limitations with only ascribing feminine roles to Heavenly Mother and our need to get to know Her better. But since my narritive is about feeling a wound and having it healed through knowing the Mother, I don’t want to deny the value of the healing that knowing the Mother can give to women who ache for Her, even if some consider healing to be inside women’s traditional roles.

  3. Caroline says:

    Thank you for telling us this story, Alisa. I love that you have felt the loving influence of the Mother.

    Personally I am very interested in God the Mother, but I admit that it’s more of an intellectual/theological thing for me. I try to use gender neutral God language or gender inclusive God language as much as possible, but that’s largely because to not do so, in my mind, potentially diminishes her daughters. I haven’t experienced that communing you described. Perhaps it’s time I went after it…

  4. Alisa says:

    Thanks for your comments and feedback. If people read this and feel isolated b/c they don’t connect to the “Mother” part of Heavenly Mother, I certainly don’t mean to offend and would like to apologize. This experience happened to be based in me feeling like I was coming into myself as a mother (something I’ve had a hard time feeling since I work full time and don’t have any models for how to be a good mother and financial provider at the same time).

    Anyway, I’m feeling like maybe it was unwise for me to put this spiritual experience out here. I’m not super comfortable having my experience debated or corrected since I can only write it how it happened (and how I interpreted it). I think it’s better if I close the comments. Hope I’m not breaking any blog rules here.