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Mother Is Universe

August 7, 2010
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We continue our meditation with a reflection on the sense of universe that mother first provides for her children.

Our heavenly Father, then, makes mothers.

It is in the carrying of children

that we become mothers.

This first carrying is protective.

“I am the universe of my child.”

May that universe

know itself to be held

in the loving and beloved Hand

of the eternal Father.

Some years ago, I read a book called The Flight from Woman, by Karl Stern, a Catholic psychiatrist who took a psychiatric look at the philosophers who have shaped much of the thinking of western culture in the last 400 years or so. He made the case that they suffered somewhat in their experience of being mothered — not being mothered — and he made the case that their ambivalence about matter came from their ambivalence about mother. This affected their philosophy and ultimately, for the worse, much of western philosophy.

Mother and matter have the same etymology, and in fact, in psychiatric observation, the association is very real. A negative sense about material existence can be related to a negative sense about mother. That is what I am meditating on right here: during pregnancy, the mother really, literally, is the universe of her child. She is meat and drink and health and safety and space: she is the universe. At birth, a child starts to live in a larger universe, but does not immediately shake off the mother as universe. He is too small, his strength too little, his information too slight, even his vision too limited, to immediately sense himself as belonging to the universe we know. In fact, well into adulthood, and indeed throughout life unless there is some powerful intervention, a person’s sense of universe is allied with their sense of motherhood.

Have we ourselves actually understood the universe we live in — that it is a friendly place, our Father’s gift, his house of covenant? Do we feel at home in the universe? Take a moment to pray about this. You are the universe for your unborn; you continue to represent the universe to your children; do you feel at home in the universe you live in? If not, ask God to help you with it.

Oh, it is true that this is a vale of tears and our true home is heaven, but that is only one side of the story. This universe is our home right now, and it is beautiful; indeed it is the best universe God could make. It is not just a trashy scaffold!

Funny, because my other blog is about cosmology right now — about the history of how the universe has been understood. Basically, it is the pagans who present it as accidental, unfriendly, cold, and so forth. I wonder what happened with their Moms? But anyway, the Father represents God, and the Mom represents the universe. It’s a big responsibility. Put your heart at rest in the Great Heart of God and be willing to represent his work well.

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