“Sara Ruddick in her book Maternal Thinking: Toward a Politics of Peace speaks of the attentive love of a mother. In summary, Ruddick says mothers are characterized by attentive love. They have to keep watching this new life; they have to keep listening and adjusting to the needs of the child. It is necessary to recognize a new agenda with the growth of the child. If the mother cannot transform herself into attentive love, she quite simply cannot be a mother. She has to learn early on that life is about change, not about theological absolutes. All growth is about changing and adjusting to what is needed at this moment by this child. The mother cannot run to abstract truths. She has to deal with this child, these tears, and this present moment with this child.That learning did not come naturally, to me. Coming from generations of people who had been raised by nannies, I wonder if that maternal wiring was short-circuited in some of us. In addition to that, the Christian Science way of attempting to live in “theological absolutes,” and to impose them on our individual lives, created difficulty for me as a young mother. Healing and wholeness (in C.S.) was thought to be found in those "abstract truths," and yet, in order to respond to my children, I had to learn to put maternal attentiveness before those abstracts. That transition didn’t happen overnight, but the more I was transformed into "attentive love," the happier I was as a mother, and the more easily our life flowed as a family.
“The feminine face of God is helping us see God as Mother God. Then we will be able to love and trust God in the maternal AND masculine forms. Who would not love back such an attentively loving God?” -Adapted from The Maternal Face of God(available as part of On Transformation: Collected Talks, Volume 1 (CD))
I think that perhaps modern life has taught women that if we give ourselves to our family in a full and attentive way, we will lose touch with our selves, and our identity. This is not true. Giving unselfish love is not a loss. It is a sacred practice of presence - a kind of meditation. There is nothing more important than what is going on right here, right now. Where you are needed, you are called. Allowing myself to be totally given led me to my deeper self, not away from it.
Attentive love was absolutely necessary for survival in the hospital, and afterward. In fact, it may have been one of the most important gifts that I had with me. Katie’s cancer journey accelerated and deepened my maternal attentiveness - and somehow, that deepened my connection to God, and to myself, as well.
"Jesus said to his disciples:
'As the Father loves me, so I also love you.
Remain in my love.
If you keep my commandments, you will remain in my love,
just as I have kept my Father’s commandments
and remain in his love.
I have told you this so that my joy might be in you
and your joy might be complete.
This is my commandment: love one another as I love you.
No one has greater love than this,
to lay down one’s life for one’s friends.
You are my friends if you do what I command you.
I no longer call you slaves,
because a slave does not know what his master is doing.
I have called you friends,
because I have told you everything I have heard from my Father.
It was not you who chose me, but I who chose you
and appointed you to go and bear fruit that will remain,
so that whatever you ask the Father in my name he may give you.
This I command you: love one another.' ” -John 15:9-17