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Monday, January 22, 2018

God as Mother

I came across this poem as part of a FaceBook post. I want to keep it and know where to find it so I'm posting it here. It was written and spoken at an event in Boston called God Our Mother. The full hour long podcast version is here. I haven't listened to the podcast but I think this poem is wonderful!

God our Mother
- Allison Woodard (28/9/2017)

To be a mother is to suffer;
to travail in the dark,
stretched and torn,
exposed in half-naked humiliation,
subjected to indignities
for the sake of new life.

To be a mother is to say,
“This is my body broken for you,”
And, in the next instant, in response to the created’s primal hunger,
“This is my body, take and eat.”

To be a mother is to self-empty,
to neither slumber nor sleep,
so attuned You are to cries in the night –
Offering the comfort of Yourself,
and assurances of “I’m here.

To be a Mother is to weep
over the fighting and exclusions and wounds
your children inflict on one another;
To long for reconciliation and brotherly love
and – when all is said and done –
to gather all parties, the offender and the offended,
into the folds of your embrace
and to whisper in their ears
that they are Beloved.

To be a mother is to be vulnerable –
to be misunderstood,
railed against,
for the heartaches of the bewildered children
who don’t know where else to cast
the angst they feel
over their own existence
in this perplexing universe.

To be a mother is to hoist onto your hips
those on whom your image is imprinted,
bearing the burden of their weight,
rejoicing in returned affection,
delighting in their wonder,
bleeding in the presence of their pain.

To be a mother is to be accused of sentimentality one moment,
and injustice the next.
To be the receiver of endless demands,
absorber of perpetual complaints,
reckoner of bottomless needs.

To be a mother is to be an artist;
a keeper of memories past,
weaver of stories untold,
visionary of lives looming ahead.

To be a mother is to be the first voice listened to,
and the first disregarded;
to be a Mender of broken creations,
and Comforter of the distraught children
whose hands wrought them.

To be a mother is to be a Touchstone
and the Source,
Bestower of names
Influencer of identities;
Life giver,
Life shaper,
Original Love.

Saturday, January 20, 2018

The importance of play

A recent conversation has me thinking about play. I don't think I allow myself to play enough! So just for fun (!) I looked up some quotes about play.

If it's true that..."“Play is the only way the highest intelligence of humankind can unfold.” -Joseph Chilton Pearce ... then I'd better get playing!

But what is "play"? Of course it is different things for different people. I like the idea that: “Play keeps us vital and alive. It gives us an enthusiasm for life that is irreplaceable. Without it, life just doesn’t taste good” -Lucia Capocchione

Mark Twain suggests that: “Work consists of whatever a body is obliged to do. Play consists of whatever a body is not obliged to do.” I'm not sure I entirely agree with that. I can see his point but when my body is "not obliged to do" anything in particular it can sometimes slump into apathetic boredom. That doesn't seem like play somehow!

This photo seems to match the next quote:
“Play is the exultation of the possible.” -Martin Buber. I like that idea!
Kite surfing takes a lot of skill, hours of practice and presumably a lot of money for gear. Not possible (or even desirable) for many of us. Fun to watch though! Walking the beach and enjoying what I see is one of the ways I play. Taking photos and editing them later is play too. I can spend hours with photos - making books and calendars and just having fun.

As usual children have so much to teach us about play: A few plastic toys and time on the beach is all that's needed.
“Children need the freedom and time to play. Play is not a luxury. Play is a necessity.” -Kay Redfield Jamison

As I've thought about the ways I play I realise that apart from walking and going to Pilates most of my play is sedentary or passive. To relax I read (a lot!), enjoy knitting and doing jigsaws, spend time on photography and go to some movies. I do swim in the summer and I always love having a coffee with a friend - one friend at a time please - parties are definitely not play for me!

We recently had a friend staying with us. She is much more extrovertedly playful than me. I enjoyed her energy and one evening we spontaneously danced around to Bee Gees music! It was fun but not something I would do without some encouragement!

Of course it's just fine for each of us to play in our own way - as long as we don't forget to play at all. Two final thought provoking quotes underline that:
“The opposite of play is not work. It’s depression.” Brian Sutton-Smith

“Those who play rarely become brittle in the face of stress or lose the healing capacity for humor.” -Stuart Brown, MD

This year I'd like to add some new ways to play - maybe more of the active kind - and definitely some that make me laugh!