Sunday, March 21, 2004

Mothering Sunday

I'm not just being picky when I insist that today is called 'Mothering Sunday'. I always have a difficult time trying to find a card that says 'Mothering Sunday', and this seems to get worse as time goes on. The reason behind this is that the card I am looking for will not be sent to my mother, but to my step-mother. Cards that talk about 'Mothers Day' do not include that relationship (and an increasing number of the relationships that people share).

In fact mothering is a relationship that includes a huge number of relationships in which I am involved. My mother was only the first of these. For a vitally important time after she died, my father was the key figure in mothering me and my brother (although I wait until Father's Day to send him a card). My step-mother, grandmothers and other relatives and friends of the family have all played their part in mothering me. For all of them I am grateful and give thanks.

Today at the church service I went to, we gave flowers to everyone in the congregation. It was a sign that we are all involved and called to be involved in mothering, in caring for the young and vulnerable. I was (I confess) a little surprised by this, but on reflection I think this is a vital Christian calling. Jesus calls us to care for the vulnerable, and took a particular care for children. Stanley Hauerwas writes that 'every Christian is called to be a parent whether they have biological children or not' and I think he is right. It's also a way of getting us away from some of the terrifying rhetoric about the 'rights' of people to have children.

Mothering Sunday is a day for all of us, male and female, parents and childless, involved in all of the huge variety of relationships that make up families and society. Time to give thanks for all those who have mothered us, and to think about all of those we are called to mother ourselves. In this way we reflect, if dimly, the mothering love of God who bore us and gave us life.

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