I started listening to Carol Lynn Pearson read her latest poetry collection — Finding Mother God: Poems to Heal the World — and I could not stop. And now I’m listening to it a second time. It’s vibrant and healing. I find Pearson’s words in this volume (and, in the audiobook, her delivery) irresistible. Pearson eloquently, insightfully, and powerfully captures a longing for a closer connection to a Heavenly Mother—and the promise of what that connection may bring—throughout, “so that God Herself and God Himself, who were always one, can join on earth to bless the confused billions” (from “Message from Mother”).
There was one Face
and then the Face became two
like when you stare with soft vision
and one of the Faces looked like me.
It is wonderful to see you seeing me.
I am so sorry.
It never was intended that She be erased.
(from “A God Who Looks Like Me”)
The existence of a Heavenly Mother is not novel to members of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. Our theology on this dates back to Eliza R. Snow’s 1845 hymn “O My Father” and has been echoed by Church leaders every since. (For an overview, see Paulsen and Pulido’s survey of teachings on Heavenly Mother.) Yet our regular, day-to-day teachings and worship tend not to involve her beyond that. Pearson proposes that rediscovering and re-engaging the divine feminine can be a force to heal the world. She traces the belief in a feminine divine much further back:
For all those little gifts you to gave to
the mythologists and archaeologists
to give to me
I thank you, Mother.
(from “Message from Mother”)
She draws strength and comfort from the concept of her Mother God: “Because She is Beauty, I must be beautiful. Because She is God, I must be good. Because she is everlasting, I will continue tomorrow and the day after the day after the days after that” (from “Like Mother Like Daughter”). (I can hear something like eternity in that day after day after days.) I read these not as imperatives (something I have to do) but as identities: we are beautiful and good and we will continue. Pearson reminds us that even when our faith (in any god) may waver, we may find Her or Him as we “do just a tiny bit of what God should do” (from “Chiasm on the Being of God”). In the gorgeous poem “What Good Is God,” she recognizes those moments when we feel our prayers have gone unanswered and imagines a response: “If I don’t answer your prayers, you could answer mine. That’s what Jesus would say.” I’m inspired by the idea of entering each day, seeking to answer the loving prayers of my Heavenly Parents on behalf of their hurting children.
The collection is wonderfully varied. Pearson speaks of girls’ education in countries where that is difficult to access (“A Goddess of the East”). She reflects on mothers in The Sound of Music and in Mary Poppins (“Our Mother in the Movies”). She pronounces a glorious, not-to-be-missed, fist-in-the-air defense of women nursing in public (“Woman Creating”). She reminds us that in a Zion community, it is safe not only to grow but also that “you can fall here,” caught and comforted by a quilt of women’s hands (“Women Together”).
While the poetry is beautiful to my ear, these are accessible poems, some reading more like poetic essays than poems. In other words, this is a collection of poetry to be loved even by those who don’t love poetry. As Pearson puts it in her (prose) author’s note: “This book of poems … is more than poetry. It is an urgent invitation for all … to welcome our Mother God back into the family… With the full participating and the full honoring of the female—on the earth and in heaven—we have a stronger opportunity to create justice and peace, bringing the human family closer and closer to the promised land of Partnership.” I pray that it may be so.