Everyone has (or had) a mum. But it’s not just us humans who are blessed by motherhood, every animal on this planet has (or had) a mother, and, without exception, those mothers go to remarkable lengths to ensure the best future for their offspring.
And that is only the beginning. Motherhood is not just a biological status. It is a way of living. You don’t need to have biologically reproduced in order to express motherhood; you don’t even need to be female (look up sea horse reproduction!).
In the ancient Jewish story of Ruth, the role of motherhood changes hands several times. To begin with, Naomi mothers her two sons. Then she extends her mothering to their wives. After the death of her sons, Naomi continues to seek what is best for her two daughters-in-law. And then the tables turn: Ruth, recognising her ageing mother-in-law’s need, begins to mother Naomi. She commits herself to caring for Naomi, travelling with her, living with her, and providing for her. Naomi wasn’t the only person to appreciate Ruth’s love; Boaz noted it too. Seeing this, Naomi took the opportunity to mother Ruth, arranging her long term security in marriage. At the end of the story, motherhood opens into a new generation with the birth of Ruth and Boaz’s son, Obed, and Naomi begins the adventure of grand-motherhood. The story is a glorious celebration of motherhood in its broader sense.
But I mustn’t stop there. Motherhood is not even limited to the residents of Planet Earth. Far beyond whatever life may thrive in other parts of the universe, the fundamental theme of motherhood leads to God - the source of all love and life, and therefore of motherhood.
Jesus, frustrated at the ineptness of his nation’s religious leaders, expressed the love of God saying: ‘Jerusalem, Jerusalem, the city that kills the prophets and stones those who are sent to it! How often have I desired to gather your children together as a hen gathers her brood under her wings!’
God is a mother too.