Our Father

Our Father, our Mother, who art in heaven, hallowed be thy name…

These are not the traditional words of the cornerstone prayer I learned as a child.

God.  Our Father.

This image has lived in my life since I was born. All through my childhood God our Father was my primary image of God. All through my adulthood it has been a constant.

God. Our Mother.

Oh, I grew up in the sixties and seventies with dear friends who walked a different spiritual path than I. Their word for their transcendent being was, and still is, goddess.

When I heard their naming, it always brought to mind Greek myths with women dressed in short white tunics trimmed in gold. Or faerie-like creatures with long flowing hair running through the forests in wispy gowns in shades of greens and blues and purples. (I was a theatre costume designer for many years.)

Occasionally, Mother would be used. But here the image that would pop into my head was that of Mary in her lovely blue and white gown, a crown of stars around her head, and a sweet smile on her face.

Our Father, our Mother, who art in heaven…

This past Mother’s Day our priest and pastor, Fr. Scott Jenkins, warned us not to get worried. It wasn’t going to change permanently. But it was Mother’s day. And so, after a simple prompting, we began the prayer.

Our Father, our Mother, who art in heaven…

A floodgate opened as I listened to those words.

How could I feel so alienated and disrespected by the Roman Catholic Church not accepting me, a female, as an equal with men, when my only image of God is that of God the Father?

How could I not see that if I, a woman, am truly made in the image and likeness of God, doesn’t God need to be the feminine, too?

I stepped away from the Roman Catholic Church almost a year ago and have never looked back from where I came. I am now a member of the Ecumenical Catholic Communion. Our priests marry; are accepted if they are divorced; are accepted if they are gay; and can be female. Imagine that. Our priests can be human.

I do know that I was never a “good” Roman Catholic. There were too many sticking points for me to really consider myself anything other than a fraud. However, in high school the Jesuits and Sisters of Loretto were my teachers, post Vatican II. I developed an independent spirituality based in social justice. But I was too weak and frightened to really do anything about it, until now.

Our Father, our Mother, who art in heaven…

Right now I am a listener. I need time to process what I am hearing. (This is a lesson I also recently learned after fifty-seven years of walking this earth.) I now take time to observe how my spirit responds to what is being said when I am at mass or on retreat, even in daily life. I need to discover what I am thinking, what I am seeing. What I really believe.

I long for radical change. I long for a faith and a church that are based in true acceptance and understanding. I want to see the inclusive language grow in the ECC, or at least, at the Church of the Holy Family.

I don’t mind discomfort as long as the road leads to a true ecumenical outcome. I want my thinking to be challenged. I want to grow. I want to be part of the spirit that welcomes everyone and lets us know we are important and loved for who we are.

Our Father, our Mother, who art in heaven…

Yes.

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