I wrote this essay in 1996 and was reminded of it recently when the topic of an AlAnon meeting was self-care. I enjoyed finding it and reading it again.
There is much we women know as a result of our procreative function. My understanding of God comes in great part from what I know about mothering. The Judeo/Christian tradition focuses exclusively on God, the Father. Good metaphor in its own way, but not complete. One of the most empowering metaphors about God is the nursing mother, a wholly feminine image.
When a new being emerges into the world, everything the infant needs is ready and waiting. Her mother's body is effortlessly and without struggle preparing to meet the need. All the newborn need do is instinctively latch on and suck. Nourishing the baby in no way depletes the mother, in fact, she benefits from the process both physically and emotionally. She is designed to supply the demand and is herself nourished by the process.
Recently, I voiced my frustration that I pray and meditate, get centered and serene, and then the anxiety returns. I pray and meditate again, become serene, and then the anxiety returns, over and over. I keep thinking that turning to Spirit should fill me once and for all, for the rest of my life. But, the breastfeeding metaphor helps me see it differently. Babies fill themselves at their mother's breast becoming peaceful and serene. Having been held, warmed and filled, they are at peace. Nevertheless, within hours, they are hungry again, and if there is the slightest delay, they become frantic, angry and desperate for fulfillment.
I remember times when my almost ten pound newborn son would scream with hunger. I gathered him in my arms, sat in the rocker and offered my breast. I talked soothingly, stroked his cheek, but he only screamed louder. His cries caused my milk to "let down" and begin dripping on his little face, but he was so upset and frustrated he paid no attention. All he needed to do was turn his head and suck. Everything he wanted and needed was right there for his taking. Sometimes it took quite a bit of coaxing to get him to stop protesting long enough to accept what was being offered. Of course, eventually he would, and he and I both would calm down, relax and enjoy the abundance of it all.
Baby Matthew reminds me of me. I want to be fed once and for all and never have to return to the Source. I meditated yesterday, why do I have to sit with God again today? All I know is that if I don't repeatedly "turn my head and suck" I become anxious agitated and lose my serenity. I suspect She set it up this way because She enjoys my company. In some inexplicable way, God, who rumor has it needs nothing, calls us back time and again because She benefits from the relationship as much as we. I understand. Nothing has ever given me more satisfaction than to hold one of my precious babies to my breast, close my eyes and gently rock. Those twenty minutes sessions filled us both.