Posted by: smstrouse | May 9, 2015

For All My Mothers

Mother887174_10203021373468572_6063021794519708667_os Day can be tough for many women for many different reasons. My mom has been gone now for seven years, and I still wrestle with the good and bad of our relationship. In the midst of all of it, though, I honor her  memory and all she contributed to who I am today.

But I’ve also come to appreciate the other “mothers” in my life – those women (some of whom I’ve never even met) who shaped my (relatively) healthy sense of self. I think of Gloria Steinem, who (believe it or not!) launched me into ministry.  The line “We are becoming the men we wanted to marry” from her book, Outrageous Acts and Everyday Rebellions, stirred me out of bitterness toward the church and a clergy ex-husband into a career of my own. My doctor at the time, a staunch feminist, had a fit – but that’s another story. gloria__arthur_photossidebyside2

And at 81, Gloria still inspires. On May 24, International Women’s Day for Disarmament, she’ll join a group of women’s rights activists to march across the DMZ from North to South Korea. She’ll be the oldest person on the peace march. So if that’s what old age looks like, all I have to say is, “Bring it on!”

Then t6a00d8341c03ee53ef017d3c82ec6e970c-500wihere’s another one of my heroes, Sister Simone Campbell.  In an interview with Stephen Colbert, who called the Nuns on the Bus radical feminists, Sr. Simone answered: “We’re certainly oriented toward the needs of women and responding to their needs. If that’s radical, I guess we are.”

On the more personal level, my “mothers” include Sr. Joan Wagner, Rosita Torres and Marlene Denardo. These women have been (Marlene still is) my spiritual directors over the years. Each has inspired, guided, comforted, challenged, loved, taught and modeled “mothering” to me.

As far as I know, none of the women I’ve named has given birth, yet all have given me gifts that I didn’t get from my birth mother. This is not a criticism of my mom, just a statement of fact. There’s a lovely song by Sinéad O’Connor called “This Is to Mother You.” But when I sing it, I change the words “For when you need me I will do what your own mother didn’t do” to “what your own mother couldn’t do.”  Here’s a great rendition by Emmylou Harris and Linda Ronstadt. 

For me, this song is not only about the women who have mothered me, it’s also about the God who continues to do so. On Mothers Day, what better time to honor our Mother, Christ Sophia and Ruach haKodesh?


To all my mothers – and to you and yours, Blessed Mothers Day!

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