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  • Writer's pictureThe Church for the Fellowship of All Peoples

Mothering Spirit, We Need You | May 9, 2021 Message from Dr. Benton

Invocation of the 4 directions (from We’Moon):

We cast a circle around Mother Earth and join in her embrace

By the air that is her breath, we call in the spirits of the East

By the fire of her bright spirit, we call in the spirits of the South

By the waters of her living womb, we call in the spirits of the West

By the Earth that is her body, we call in the spirits of the North

Great Mother, accept our offering.

We invoke your spirit in the hearts of all She touches.

To Mary

Hail to you, O greenest, most fertile branch!

You budded forth amidst breezes and winds

in search of the knowledge of all that is holy.

When the time was ripe

your own branch brought forth blossoms.

Hail, greetings to you!

The heat of the sun exudes sweat from you

like the balsam’s perfume.

In you, the most stunning flower has blossomed

and gives off its sweet odor to all the herbs and roots,

which were dry and thirsting before your arrival.

Now they spring forth in fullest green!

Because of you, the heavens give dew to the grass,

the whole Earth rejoices;

Abundance of grain comes from Earth’s womb

and on its stalks and branches the birds nest.

And, because of you, nourishment is given to the human family

and great rejoicing to those gathered round the table.

And so, in you O gentle Virgin,

is every fullness of joy, everything that Eve rejected.

Now let endless praise resound to the Most High!

Again, I lean on the wisdom and beauty flowing from the magnificent works of St. Hildegard of Bingen. I tried not to, but I was again drawn to the tremendous comfort of Hildegard’s view of life…her vision of the world and of the nature of things.

Hildegard takes us to a fuller image of Mary…of the divine Mother of All. It is a vision full of the mystery of the divine…of nature…and of the creative, generative power that is so natural…so humble, yet so awesome. It fills us with wonder and with gratitude for life. It takes us to the mothering image of Earth…not only able to birth us and to birth all life, but still longing…still “in search of the knowledge of the holy”. This is what I see with the mothering that is going on at my house. There is a nine month old baby and a four month old puppy. Both are being mothered each day by the mothering spirit of the actual mother or, in the case of the puppy, by his sister. This mothering spirit is no joke. It is a daily discipline that guides, comforts and protects the young. It is hard work, but tender work. It is necessary work. After the violence and pain of the birth process…after that profound separation, comes the period of trusting and knowing one another. Without this very important period, a young person (or even a puppy) cannot develop into a caring, compassionate adult. We need this nurturing, patient, loving spirit. It is like an anchor for our soul…one that can carry us through life’s storms…through everything we must endure in life. Of course, all are not as lucky as the baby and puppy in my home.

In contrast to my home situation, I sat with two clients this week who were referred by Child Protection Services. Both women are mothers who have lost custody of their children. They are both ready to do whatever it takes to have their children with them again. After hearing their stories, like the stories of so many, I learned that they did not have the support of a loving, supportive parent…they often felt alone and abandoned. We sense this pain in this song…

But I was struck by the profound wisdom emanating from these women…perhaps born of the struggle in life. They both possessed the necessary compassion, love and even knowledge to regain custody and to raise their children…they just did not trust that wisdom. They have been conditioned by a society that does all it can to make us turn away from that innate wisdom…to ignore our inner voice that says we are capable of caring for our children…the inner voice that says we can care for ourselves too. These women are, I think, embarking on a journey to recover this wisdom and learn to trust it. This gives me a lot of hope for them and their children. Of course, the system is severely flawed but it does seem that there is a growing recognition that something more than drug treatment…something more than parenting classes…something more than a social worker’s requirements is needed for people to heal and to strengthen themselves for the monumental and important work of being a parent. The something more is what a companion or a group of companions can do. We can create a safety net…a type of container…a womb perhaps in which this work can take place. It is my hope that we begin to recognize this need.

I am participating this month in the fasting of Ramadan. I have done this in years past in order to gain a greater understanding of this spiritual tradition and in solidarity with Muslim friends. This year I have been participating as a spiritual practice that teaches me to be more mindful…more aware. I feel like this is the time to be as aware as we possibly can. Aware of what is happening around us…aware of the opportunities that we may have to participate in the healing of souls and the healing of our mother’s soul. Last night Muslims around the world celebrated Laylatul Qadr: The Night of Power. This is the 27th night of Ramadan. It is said that during this night in the time of the prophet Muhammad, the angel Gabriel came down asking the prophet to recite the words of the Quran. It is viewed by some as the “Muslim new year” … a time to begin again and set our intentions for the next year. As is true every day for practicing Muslims, this night consists of intense prayer. It is said to result in an intense sense of peace when dawn comes.

May we, in these last days of Ramadan, remember our own angels…those who birthed us, those who hold us through difficult times and those who celebrate with us during joyous times…just like our mother…the mother of all...the “greenest, most fertile branch” who gave us life. In the Jewish tradition, Lynn Gottlieb adapted the understanding of the mothering spirit from the ancient Kabbalah texts this way:

Shekinah is the consuming fire by which dreamers are renewed at night. This fire takes all souls unto itself and encloses them in its flame.

Shekinah is the wide place which contains everything yet is not filled.

As it is written: All rivers flow to the sea; the sea takes them in

brings them forth anew and they go their way.

There is no place devoid of Shekinah. The whole earth is full of her glory.

This is the face of Shekinah: ancestor spirits, angels and the ones who inhabit unseen worlds. All these are sustained by Her light.

Shekinah is the womb of emanations, Great Mother Binah,

replete with understanding.

Her wisdom gives order and pattern to the living

Daughters and sons She bears without number.

We are the fibers of Her being. In Her great round time is born.

Between the mystery of beginnings and our return we travel her way.

This is the nature of our Earth Mother…the one in whom the whole Earth rejoices and is loved and protected. The one with whom we travel in life. We give thanks for this mothering spirit…in the words of Shemeya Mountain Laurel:

Mother of All

thank you

You who calls my name

and I come running


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