25th June – Rosalie
Growing up in the church, I often heard God described as being like a father. As I got older and became more involved with Christian communities who had more progressive theology, I would also sometimes hear God described as a mother or as having motherly characteristics. To be honest, neither of these analogies particularly resonated with me, and I have never found it easy to identify with the label a ‘child of God’. I love my parents, but my relationship with them is not significantly similar to how I have experienced God. I also found it problematic (and still do) that there is sometimes such an emphasis put on God as a parent figure, when so many people have terrible and un-Godly situations involving their parents.
However, during my pregnancy with Bertie I started to identify strongly with this idea of God as a parent. It was strangely shocking to me that I was feeling such a deep level of love and connection to my unborn child. Of course, I had known that I would love them but I hadn’t expected the experience to be such an embodied one. My flesh was literally creating his flesh, the nutrients from my bones being pulled to build his tiny skeleton, and there is even some suggestion that the placenta will draw on the fatty acids in the mother’s own brain to build the developing child’s. These physiological processes become more intense throughout pregnancy. A birthing parent’s hormones are completely changed, their brain becomes smaller in some parts and larger in others, their muscles and ligaments take on qualities they never have before. These changes are not just limited to birthing parents, there is increasing evidence that non-gestational parents undergo momentous changes too!
In experiencing this complete transformation of body and mind, I also began to melt from my position as a single being, and after his birth we became two individuals inextricably linked. Sometimes birthing parents and their babies are referred to as a “dyad”, a single entity made up of two people. Of course over time, the dyad grows apart and babies become autonomous humans. (Although I am writing this on a day that the number of interruptions I have had makes it seem as though this autonomy is a long way away!)
This experience has profoundly changed me, but it has also changed my understanding of God. I can now in some small way comprehend God as a mother, as our birthing parent, as the one who brought us into existence. Ourselves, our bodies and our souls, drawn from God’s placenta, created from building blocks taken from the very being of God themself. God allowing themselves to melt into us. God becoming different, incarnate, changed but yet the same. And this fits with this ever-growing sense I have that God is deeply within us, in ways we can’t comprehend. The core of our being is made from the goodness and grace of God. Our world itself originates from God. And perhaps that is why, as we join with God in the renewal of all things, that it doesn’t take very much searching to find this renewal in action. It is there in each of us, in our spiritual DNA, because we are the children of God.