Lately, in the mornings, when I wake up from a sleep interrupted by different children's bad dreams, wet beds, growing pains, hunger, loneliness, I only have one thought: I rise again.
I feel like bread rising for the second time. First rise is the proof, proof that it works. The second rise, though, I imagine the bread didn't see coming. The second rise where it gets beat down, torn apart, and remade to rise again so it can fulfill it's true purpose. This is the rise I'm talking about, the second one, after the beat down.
This is what I feel like most mornings. I've already proven myself in the night, but in the morning, I get slapped and rolled into a different shape, one that's more usable, and again I rise. Baked by fires of the day, energy all consumed by the end. Only to be remade the next morning.
Again and again and again I rise. And again.
It worries me, sometimes, how much motherhood, especially these wearing early years, is so unlike the character of God the Father. God the Father who cannot suffer, who cannot sacrifice, who cannot struggle. God the Father who is I Am That I Am. His immutable character full of holiness, faithfulness, goodness. All eternal spirit.
Mothering is dirty, it's a life consumed by flesh, body, and matter. It's full of ugly cries, pettinesses, hunger, pain, full of muck and stink from little bottoms that need constant tending. It's character demands a bent knee and kind, tireless eyes in the face of suffering and struggles. It demands thankless sacrifice. All the things Yahweh is not. All the brokenness that his Son came to redeem.
I sat in the library as an undergrad, one dreary November afternoon near finals, doing a research project and reading Julian of Norwich for the first time. She's a 12th century English mystic who wrote extensively on "Jesus our Mother," Jesus as our wetnurse, Jesus as our brother. Jesus who raises us, brings us up and is somehow also brought up with us. I liked the thought. Jesus who feeds us from his own body. The closeness of it, his warmth and softness. It was always there, in the communion cup and bread. But in that study carol on the third floor of the musty library filled with dust-coated books, I felt it for the first time. My fellow Christians spoke with personal authority on the nature of Jesus, with fervor and zeal. With certainty. They were friends with him after all. But always to them, he was the Son of Man, always Jesus who was one with the Father, Savior of the lowly sinner. Never Jesus who gave like a mother.
I never had their certainty or connection though I clawed for it, hoped for it, waited for it.
And waited for it.
Now, in this bone-tired season of my life, where I must bounce back again and again, I can see him. I erase the creative renderings and reimaginings Jesus gets in the progressive academy. I ignore my fellow fundamentalists' altar calls full of this man named GEEE-SUSSSS.
I empty my mind of everything but my own small world of daily repetitions and routines, of small failures and smaller victories, of laughter and fart noises, and him. I feel him. I see him. In some small way, as I get up again, as I rise again, I am a picture of him.
Jesus our mother—who became flesh, who rises again, who shows grace, who gives wholeness, who lets the dirty, nose-wiping little children come to him in the dead of night, who lets us drain the energy out of him. He knows the back-breaking work it takes to make and tend new life. He quite likes the ordinary things too, some very good news for me who lives only in the domestic sphere. He makes the bread, the wine, the water holy. The daily stuff that sustains us. That's him. He pours himself out for us day after day. Like I do—like I try to do for my children, for my family, for my friends and neighbors. So he does for me.
He's the bread and he rises again too.