Mother’s Day is not just a sentimental holiday to honor those who birth biologically, though I personally love the cards my children write me. I think it is more importantly a sacred day we can use to honor the ways we all birth expressions of our own divinity into the world, like Jesus did.
Meister Eckhart, a brilliant theologian from the 1300s said, “We are all meant to be mothers of God, for God is always needing to be born.”
The Church has a fancy name for this: Theotokos (Thee-o-TOKE-us). In Greek it literally means “one who gives birth to God” or “birth-giver of God.” The term is traditionally given to Mary of Nazareth in the Christian tradition, of course, but if the message of Jesus points us toward transforming the world through becoming more conscious of our own divinity and expressing that on behalf of the poor, the marginalized, and the suffering, then we all have a new nickname to claim this Sunday, May 14: Theotokos!
What does it look and sound like to birth our own divinity—the Light and Love and Spirit of God—into the world? To me, it sounds like the courageous truth spoken by an African-American woman in a dialogue we were having about race recently. She was reluctant and a bit afraid to share her feelings with white people, but said that she wanted to do her part to help us understand one another better. It was painful for all of us present, but listening deeply as we did seemed mysteriously healing for her and for us.
When we give birth to our unique ways of contributing to the world’s healing by claiming our truth and honoring our relationships, we claim the name Theotokos:
the divorced parent who continues to reach out patiently to his/her children regularly despite their understandable anger,
the activist whose passion births courageous conversations outside her/his comfort zone,
the friend who respects the boundaries and choices of another, even when s/he longs to rescue them from the pain they are caught in,
the transgender man who comes out to his family and births truth about the complexity of human sexuality, even though he knows that this journey will be long and arduous for all of them,
the woman who asks for help with her depression or obsessive compulsive habits, even though her family has always scoffed at professional therapy as something only for “those other” people,
the person, who at personal cost to self, goes to bat for another who has been misunderstood.
In scripture, Jesus never says to worship him. But he says over and over, “Follow me.” He invites us to lose our little, fearful selves in order to find our larger, divine selves—which Christians call “the Christ within.” He knew that as each of us take steps to allow our own divinity to be revealed, never duplicating Jesus Christ’s divinity, but echoing it as little Christs, we become like Mary, Theotokos, whose birthing reminds the world again and again, “God is With Us.”