Monday, May 13, 2013

Oh My Mother

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It's Mother's Day.

I woke up to lilacs on the dinning table and Ever Jane's downy hair covering her morning face. We had buttermilk waffles with grade B maple syrup and daddy scrubbed each child clean in the green tub with the ginger soap. Like factory workers on an assembly line, as soon as the kids were cleaned by dad, I plucked them out of the tub with a dry, white towel and dressed them in their church clothes. Anson looked handsome with in his bicycle tie and Jay Gatsby hair. Ever and Erin were topped with bows--white for Ever's rosebud dress I passed down to her, and for Erin, pink to match her ruffled shoes.

We walked to church in the sunshine and into the chapel where there was holiday excitement. The bishop had to talk over the chatty congregation who didn't shush when the organ stopped playing. The meeting opened with song and prayer leading us all to the sacrament. After that, the Mother's Day talks started from an assortment of speakers--teenagers, mothers, husbands, grandfathers. One talk in particular meant a lot to me, from the first counselor in our bishopric. It was a talk about "the doctrine of motherhood" which started after a brief explanation and continued with all the quotes the church has ever published about our Heavenly Mother. From leaders in our pioneer past to recent prophets of the church, these quotes solidified the belief that we are children of Heavenly Parents--both a father and a mother. He ended properly with the reading of Eliza R. Snow's Oh My Father:
I had learned to call thee Father, Through thy Spirit from on high,
But until the key of knowledge Was restored, I knew not why.
In the heavens are parents single? No, the thought makes reason stare!
Truth is reason, truth eternal Tells me I've a mother there.
After church I put my pink cheeked baby down for a nap. Today was her first day of nursery and she braved it like the other two siblings before her. Ever hands me a Mother's Day card she made in her class. It asks, "My mommy makes great____" to which Ever responded "kiwi." (Someday I'll pass down the recipe.) And Anson begs to watch the last of "Jimmy John Jones" from last night's Family Movie Night (which is really Indiana Jones but how can you correct him?). I am bushed from cleaning the entire house top to bottom the day before and when all the whole house goes quiet with nappers and viewers, I found my lawn chair in the back lawn to sleep in the sunshine for a turn.

I woke up after a few minutes, peacefully realizing I had an essay to write. The quotes from the Mother's Day sermon still in my head, I am writing now in this impossibly quiet house. Here's what I want to say:

Martha is a woman superior to me in spiritual intellect. I sat across from her at lunch a couple months ago. She spilled from her soul many insights into the female divine of our shared religious past. She looked at me with burning eyes, almost searching to see if I could understand her offerings. I understood. Her words were like a pick--digging at my heart frozen and encompassed by ice. The more she spoke truth to me, the more my heart could pump, until it started to bounce out of the ice, melting it completely.

My Mother in Heaven is a constant in my life, she whispers truth to me. She enlightens my mind. She tells me about her son Jesus Christ and urges me to ask my Father in Heaven for the things I need. In fact, she does what Parley P. Pratt describes about the Holy Ghost in this quote,

...quickens all the intellectual faculties, increases, enlarges, expands and purifies all the natural passions and affections; and adapts them, by the gift of wisdom, to their lawful use. [She] inspires, develops, cultivates and matures all the fine-toned sympathies, joys, tastes, kindred feelings and affections of our nature. [She] inspires virtue, kindness, goodness, tenderness, gentleness and charity. [She] develops beauty of person, form and features.[She] tends to health, vigor, animation and social feeling.[She] invigorates all the faculties of the physical and intellectual man. [She] strengthens, and gives tone to the nerves. In short, it is, as it were, marrow to the bone, joy to the heart, light to the eyes, music to the ears, and life to the whole being.

When I think about my Heavenly Mother as the Holy Ghost, that once-frozen heart of mine soars. I feel like I could fly and float. I am happy to the point of utter joy. The nerves in my body vibrate and my head fills full of light. I want to cry and scream out and get on my knees and feel gratitude and humility all at once. And I know my body cannot lie. When it hears truth it cannot resist feeling this way. And so, because God talks to me through my body and my emotions, I have to ask myself, what if this were true? What if the very first concept of faith in the gospel contains truth about my Mother as well as my Father and my brother Jesus Christ?

This is not doctrine of my church. In most cases, we call the Holy Ghost a He. We talk about how the Holy Ghost has a body of spirit. In reality, we don't know much about the body of the Holy Ghost--and this serves to bring me closer to this concept. We also don't know much about our own bodies as women. In fact, women are lost on their bodies--ever trying to manipulate and change them, hoping to find peace. It's possible to me, the more we know about the abilities and power of the Holy Ghost's body the more women will understand their own glorious bodies--meant to nurture and birth, cycle and serve.

And maybe this was a doctrine for the women of the church to receive and reveal? I don't know. But I do know how good it has felt to embrace this, a Godhead that is family--Father, Mother, son. And maybe like Martha, I can carry this idea (this, What if?) on to the next person who can take it in and let it burn and consume their existence as well. When we are ready, there is a lot to feel about the gospel. A lot to discover and ask, "How does this feel?"

Happy Mother's Day.