May 11 2014

Wishing God a Happy Mother’s Day

_DSC4751It’s Mother’s Day and lots of people are taking advantage of the occasion to express their love and gratitude to or for their mothers.  Countless cards have been sent, flowers and other gifts shared, and on Facebook just about everyone has posted a picture of their mother.  Mothers play a vital role in our lives so it is only appropriate that we express our gratitude to them.  Hopefully, however, that is not something we do just once a year.  When you remember the sacrifices most mothers make for their children, the time they invest caring and providing for, protecting and nurturing their children, they truly do deserve more than an annual day of remembrance.

whitetail doe and fawn book (v) crA few days ago I was out photographing in the nearby Sloughs and had a chance to take pictures of a pair of bald eagles who were watching over a couple of eaglets.  The mature eagles knew I was in the vicinity and their constant cries made me aware that they were in protective mode.  I was there long enough to see one of the adult eagles bring food to the nest.  This indicated they were also in providing mode.  One of the eagles spent more time near the nest more than the other.  I assumed it was the female but I could not say that for sure.  Regardless, watching it sit there watching over the eaglets reminded me that mothers play a very important role in the animal kingdom as well.

Some animals have more of what we would call a maternal instinct than others but after years of watching animals it is safe to conclude that most female creatures do, in fact, care for their young.  They not only give birth to their offspring but spend a good bit of energy and time nursing, protecting and providing for their little ones.  Many exhibit the same sacrificial and loving characteristics we see in good human mothers.  These traits are a must for the survival of the species but also for the general welfare of the young.

bison and calf crI happen to believe that the maternal care we see in good mothers—human and nonhuman alike—is a reflection of God.  I realize that for a variety of reasons we tend to speak of God in masculine terms but the Bible does not intend for us to view God as being literally male.  The Bible says “God is Spirit” (John 4:24) and as such God demonstrates characteristics that we associate with both males and females.  As the Creator God gives birth to the world and all that is. The God described for us in Hosea 11 definitely has maternal characteristics.  Jesus, who is the greatest revelation of God we have, even used maternal imagery.  In Matthew 23:37 we find him weeping over Jerusalem and saying “how often I have longed to gather your children together, as a hen gathers her chicks under her wings, but you were not willing.”

Canada goose with goslingsI happen to have had a mother who was (is) very loving.  She has enriched my life in many ways.  I see in her love a reflection of God’s love.  I’ve seen that same kind of love in countless other mothers over the years.  I’ve seen it in nature as well.  So on this Mother’s Day I do give thanks for my mother but even more so for the love of God who loves us all with a true mother’s love.  I see no reason at all not to wish God a very happy Mother’s Day.  At the very least we should all offer our thanks today for the way God’s love is reflected in mothers everywhere throughout Creation.


(I took the eagle image at Henderson Sloughs WMA, the whitetail deer at Shenandoah NP, the bison in Wyoming, and the geese near Frankfort, KY.)

May 12 2013

Honoring Our Other Mother

_CES2183Today is Mother’s Day. I kind of have mixed emotions about the whole idea of Mother’s Day. For some it is a wonderful day, for others it is a sad time. Still, I am glad for the opportunity it gives me to express my love and gratitude to my mother. I truly was blessed with a great mother and she deserves all the love and appreciation I can give her today and every other day.

_CES3083The Bible repeatedly tells us to “honor your father and mother.”  This admonition even appears in the Ten Commandments.  (See Exodus 20:12)  Apparently God believes it is very important that respect be shown to one’s parents.  In the New Testament it is pointed out that this is the only Commandmant that has a promise attached to it.  The promise is “Then everything will be well with you, and you will have a long life on the earth.” (See Ephesians 6:2-3)  My suspicion is that this promise is not fulfilled automatically. Rather, if we have godly parents and show respect for them by listening to them and doing what they say, we will reap many benefits throughout our life.  This will likely cause us to live longer.  In other words, it pays to show one’s parents honor and respect.  That makes sense to me.

On this particular Mother’s Day I find myself wondering if there is not another mother that deserves honoring–Mother Earth.  Rob and I write regularly about the importance of caring for the earth and note that there are divine imperatives for doing so.  To many of us the Scriptures are clear on this.  Unfortunately, not all agree.  In recent days both a politician and a prominent minister have argued that we need not worry about the environment because Jesus is coming back soon.  The minister said that’s why he drove a SUV and joked that a man who drives a minivan is a mini-man.  Apparently some actually believe that since Jesus is coming back soon (something every generation since the apostle Paul has believed) there’s no need to worry about things like polluted water and air.

_CES4533It would seem that Mother Earth deserves more respect than that. Even more so, the God who created the earth deserves to have His handiwork honored and respected more.  It is, after all, His gift to us.  The earth is remarkable in so many different ways.  It is designed to sustain life but if mistreated it can lead to death instead.  Perhaps one reason God calls on us to care for the earth is so that we might all live healthy lives.  And like God’s commandment to honor our parents, it would seem obeying the command to “tend the garden” produces many benefits for both us and others.  Long life and environmental care go hand in hand.  To me this is secondary to the revelation of God through Creation but obviously still very important.  If we really want to affirm the importance, or even sanctity, of life then the earth must be honored and respected.  By failing to honor the earth we fail to love both God and humankind. 

On this Mother’s Day I hope we will strive not only to honor our mothers but also Mother Earth. Showing them our love and respect is not only the right thing to do, it is the smart thing.  In both instances they and we reap benefits from our actions.  That sounds like a win-win situation to me.


(I took the images shown above on a trip with Rob to northern California a couple of years ago.)