The depth of life’s interconnection is our greatest vulnerability and our greatest hope. We are beings in relation.
Today we celebrate Mother’s Day. Drenched in some strange amalgam of consumerism and genuine desire to nurture the ones who have nurtured us, we buy flowers and gift cards. We plan Sunday brunches or make that extra-long phone call to our mothers living far from us. My own mother, to whom I owe my courage and creativity, lives two thousand miles away. It was she whose breath gave rise to my own, whose gentle strength and fierce passion made way for my being in the world. It is my mother to whom I trace my beginning, and yet, if life is as Anais Nin imagines it, a “process of becoming” are we not ever-beginning? If all life itself is in process, if the powers of destruction and creation flow, creating and re-creating all that is, I wonder at the wombs that make and re-make us.
This process of becoming is an adventure through the whirlwind, a tour of the chaosmos. Our becoming, wrapped up with the becoming of Creation itself, is an unwinding of the fibers of the universe and our own souls, spiraling toward liberation. And so, on this Mother’s Day, I offer gratitude and honor toward all that gives us birth, to all who take part in our process of becoming.
In honor of ourselves. There is a sense that each of our beginnings emerges out of a wound, out of a dying. The day I was born was the day I received my first scar. I was a C-Section baby and the doctor nicked the edge of my forehead narrowly missing my eye. Soon enough, the wound healed and I still have a tiny scar by my right eye. Today, many years and many scars later, I marvel at our ability to heal. We give life to ourselves, after the movements of death have swept through us, after long nights of grief and the collapse of all we knew. In the quiet stillness of a soul razed, creativity moves.
Shaun McNiff, in his book Art as Medicine, writes of the soul’s “instinctual process of ministering to itself.” Soul is imagined as kinesis, process, creation, and flow. Rather than being solely reliant on some outside penetrating force, creativity calls us to awaken to our own grace, our own ability to heal, and begin again. Creativity, arising from our own depths, is the psychopomp within. In the wake of a great tragedy, it is our soul’s slow awakening to its own power, to its own movements in a beautifully delicate dance toward becoming. The Spirit of Life moves within us. She moves slowly, begins to dance to the rhythm of drums yet unheard. In the depths of our being, we knit and re-knit the fibers of our own being with the thread of Spirit giving birth to ourselves.
In honor of one another. In a world of radical relationality and beautiful, precarious vulnerability, our becoming is never an insular process. We are each part and parcel of each other, uniquely our own and yet something of us is made of the collective. As feminist theologians we are heard into our own speech, are we not also co-created into being? To be is to be connected to others in a delicate, tenuous web of relationality.
From Aristotle to Hobbes, to those tell-tale words of Descartes “I think, therefore I am,” bolstered by the Enlightenment’s focus on autonomous reason and modernity’s turn toward everything individually-packaged, marketed, and sold—the message we are receiving is this: you are alone and nothing can be done about it. Your actions will touch but a small circle of existence and fade away. Your life’s breath depends on the movement of your diaphragm and the work of your medulla oblongata alone.
Feminist theology presents us with quite a different truth. The deep truth that we are, indeed, not alone. Our actions (and our inaction) reach out into ripples beyond comprehension. Our breath depends on the generations that have breathed life into us and the deep hummus that gives birth to every single tree on this beautiful, entangled planet. The depth of life’s interconnection is our greatest vulnerability and our greatest hope. We are beings in relation; our interconnection runs deep from the hundred year old forests into our mother’s wombs and into the marrow of our bones. Interdependence shines as we link arms to stand together for the powers of love and truth.
When we realize, and realize deeply, that my process of becoming, my movements toward liberation, are tied up with yours, we recognize our role as midwives in one another’s journey toward becoming. My own life has been blessed by the presence of Red Tent women, sisters, and soul guides on the journey with whom I’ve gathered courage, told stories, clarified thoughts, worked for justice, and shared sacred silence. It is these blessed souls who teach us of the necessity of our being and our becoming, that, as Sister Joan Chittister writes, we are vital to lives beyond our own. These women create for one another a holding space: the womb from which we begin again.
And so, on this Mother’s Day, I send my love to my own mother, and to all that has given me birth in this unfolding dance of becoming.
Ashley Anderson is a native of Colorado and a graduate student at Boston University’s School of Theology and School of Social Work. She believes in the power of communities of faith working for justice.