Lyrics from God Our Mother

God Our Mother Intro

God our Father 
Giver of daily bread 
Blessing our hands and covering our heads 
God our Mother 
Leading us into peace
Drawing and comforting all those in need 

Hallowed, hallowed be thy name 
Hallowed, hallowed be thy name 
Hallowed, hallowed be thy name in all the earth


Pink and Blue

Yesterday we went for a walk in the forest preserve, and two deer stood in the clearing. One grazed and wandered, took no notice of us. And the other stared at us, completely still, tensed and ready at every moment.  The young deer was careless, wandering, unworried. Because the one who watched us was her mother. 

The young deer was safe, because she was with her mother. And this mother deer did what mothers do: she protected, watched over, looked out for, stayed on guard over. She was looking across the field, eyes scanning back and forth, ready to protect her young at any moment.

We live in a world that draws a deep distinction between fathers and mothers—there are things that fathers do and things that mothers do, and in our world they’re not the same at all. It starts before we become parents, actually.  We do this with all men and women, and before that, boys and girls.

A sonogram, black and white and gray swirls. It looks like old footage of a moon landing more than anything. But in that moment, gender is spoken, or maybe a few months later in a hospital room, and then you tumble into a world of pink, pink, pink, or blue, blue, blue–forever.

That’s how people are. We split people into pink and flowers and babies and high heels. Or blue and bravado and machines and muscles. 

But God isn’t pink or blue. God doesn’t fit into our Game of Life pegs, tiny woman or tiny man, riding around the board in a tiny sedan.

God nurtures and protects and feeds his children, just like that mother deer in the clearing, with ferocity and power, ready to do anything for the children he loves. God listens and draws near. God holds and heals. 

God our Mother. 
God our Mother.

We know all about God our Father, and the beautiful images that go along with that idea: the strong, faithful, unshakeable love of a father. But to only know God the Father would be like only knowing daytime but never night—to see the sunrise, but never the gentle, haunting rise of a harvest moon, low in the sky, blood red and beautiful. To know only the Father God would be like seeing the bright, dazzling sun, but never the stars spreading across the sky like so much fairy dust.

God our Mother, reaching out to us with those hands—mother hands, strong and coursing with love, binding up wounds and soothing scrapes, holding us together, holding us safe.

God our Mother, feeding us, nourishing us, giving us what we need to grow and thrive, taking care of us in big and small ways, seeing us, knitting us back together with love and grace when we’ve been broken.

God our Mother, believing in us. That’s what a mother does: she looks into your eyes and she says, I believe in you. I know you. I know you were made for great things. A mother says, you’re not too small or too scared. You’re not too frail or too flawed. You’re mine. And that’s all you need to know.

God our Mother whispers to each one of us You’re mine. And that’s all you need to know.


God Our Mother

God our Father 
Giver of daily bread 
Blessing our hands and covering our heads 
God our Mother 
Leading us into peace
Drawing and comforting all those in need 

Hallowed, hallowed be thy name 
Hallowed, hallowed be thy name 
Hallowed, hallowed be thy name in all the earth

Jesus, brother, guiding our very step 
Deliver us and grant places of rest
Jesus, savior, grabbing us from the grave
Cheating the fall and bringing the light of day 


Apophatic Meditation Intro

There is an ancient spiritual practice that has largely been lost in Western Christianity called apophaticism.  The apophatic practice goes back centuries and has influenced people like C.S. Lewis, Thomas Merton, Thomas Aquinas, Dionysius,  and St. Augustine. Despite its absence from most of mainstream Western Christendom, the theology and practice of apophaticism is still very active in Eastern and Orthodox denominations of Christianity.  

Scientists have studied the brain during different types of meditation and prayer. This research shows that apophatic meditation is more difficult than most forms of prayer and meditation. Many people who attempt apophatic meditation aren’t able to gain anything from the practice. However, those people who do respond often find this practice to be the most powerful form of prayer in helping them experience a connection with God.  

So, for this month’s meditation, we would like to invite the courageous to try this with us. It will not be easy. Some of you may find it difficult or even frustrating. But for a few, this may be a lifeline towards experiencing closeness with God. 

The basic idea of the apophatic tradition is this: God doesn’t fit in our language very well.  

To illustrate this, perhaps we could turn to science for a moment and ask a question:

"What are electrons?"

We learn in school that electrons are little particles that orbit the nucleus of an atom. That explanation is useful, but people who study physics say it's wrong.

More sophisticated understandings of physics tell us that electrons teleport from place to place, Or, that they exist as a cloud. Or, even that they are a wave-function that interacts with other wave-functions probabilistically. All those explanations are useful, but they're very wrong.

Nothing in the human experience has prepared our intuitions and language to deal with the reality of electrons. Any time you describe electrons with words, you are using metaphor to describe something that is best understood with mathematics.

People have to start with an accessible metaphor to understand electrons at all. However, once that understanding is mastered, increasingly challenging explanations are revealed with further study, until language is ultimately left behind. And that’s just electrons.

Now, another question: “What is God?”

We say that God is Holy, infinite, and beyond our words. We describe God as limitless, all knowing, and present everywhere. The Bible often speaks of God in ways that surpass language.

For example, in Exodus 3, Moses asks God what he should tell people if they ask God's name. God replies with a phrase, "ehyeh ʾašer ʾehyeh," that is very difficult to translate into English, but which is commonly quoted as "I Am Who I Am," or "I Will Be What I Will Be."

The book of Isaiah says, "My thoughts and my ways are not like yours. Just as the heavens are higher than the earth, my thoughts and my ways are higher than yours." Even as scripture uses language to describe God, it also offers disclaimers by saying that God is beyond our thoughts.

No one understands God completely or perfectly. We all have experiences where we see the ways our knowledge of God are incomplete–or even wrong altogether. In those times our own experiences with God are vital.

This tension between knowing God through language and reason, and knowing God through experience and revelation has always been a part of the Church. Early Greek Christians believed that God could only be known through experience, and that direct experiences with God impossible to communicate to others. Later, Christian Mystics in the West sought to connect to God in ways that transcended language and rational thought altogether.

Others have persuasively argued that knowing God exclusively though experience and mysticism can be dangerously incomplete–you're sense of unity with God may lead you to accept ideas that aren't really Godly. For that reason, we recommend that spiritual practices like apophaticism are best moderated through scripture, tradition, and some form of spiritual community.

So for those of you up for the challenge, onto the practice!

We invite you now to become aware of God's unlimited nature by contemplating the limits of language. This meditation will consist of a series of phrases. The first will be a positive statement.  Something like “God is our Father.” 

As you hear this phrase, let the words paint pictures for you.  Experience the richness and beauty of the metaphor of God being like a Father that loves and takes care of his children. Strong, Mysterious, Playful; Whatever sort of words or images come to mind. 

The second phrase will be a negation of the first. God is not our Father. The word father applies to a human male who either raises a child, contributes sperm for conception, or both. This is not the case with God. God is not merely a human being that passed his genetic material onto us, and God is not a human male. God is more than the word father implies. 

As you hear that second phrase, let the negation of the words and images that you initially felt make you aware of how limiting your own thoughts, words and feelings are when the relate to God. 

The third phrase will then negate the negation: “God is not not our Father”  

This is the most difficult part of the exercise, but it’s the key to the practice’s power.  “God is not not,” sounds silly at first, but the idea is profound. When we say “God is not our father,” we maintain control.  It’s not that difficult to think “Ok, yeah, God is more than a Father.”  But, the apophatic tradition takes that one step farther.  Even our assumptions about what “not” or “more than” mean are still entirely confined to the human experience.

By saying “God is not not our Father”, we come to the end of language. We admit that our thoughts can’t define God, and further that they can’t even describe their own limitations.  To the mystics, we perhaps are now present with God. Here in the lack of any understanding. Here in the murkiness of mystery, when we have stopped making an idol of God with our concepts and language… we are finally just present with the great "I will be who I will be."

Find a comfortable position, silence your cell phone, close your eyes and engage with these phrases to find the end of your language and perhaps the beginning of different type of experience with God.


Apophatic Meditation

God is our father. God is not our Father, for God is more than our Father. God is not not our Father.   

God is wise. God is not wise, for God is more than wise. God is not not wise.

God is strong. God is not strong. God is not not strong.

God is our mother. God is not our mother. God is not not our mother.

God is love. God is not love. God is not not love.

God is a being. God is not a being. God is not not a being.

God exists. God does not exist. God does not not exist.

God is ehyeh asher ehyeh.

God is I AM WHO I AM.

God is I AM.

Our Father, our Mother, Holy Other, Hallowed be thy Name. Thy Kingdom come. Thy will be done in earth, As it is in heaven. Give us this day our daily bread. And forgive us our trespasses, As we forgive them that trespass against us. And lead us not into temptation, But deliver us from evil. For thine is the kingdom,
The power, and the glory,
For ever.