Thoughts for Mothering Sunday 2021
Updated: Mar 10
Many of us will be giving and receiving flowers this weekend, expressing gratitude for mothers and the love they bestow. The Dean of Winchester's message for this Mothering Sunday is a bittersweet reflection on this year's celebrations.
Can a woman forget her nursing-child,
or show no compassion for the child of her womb?
Dean Catherine Ogle writes of how, as we continue the journey through Lent, we anticipate a joyful springtime break in the fast, with the celebration of Mothering Sunday at the weekend. She says:
This year, though, I admit to feeling some trepidation about preparing for Mothering Sunday. Perhaps you do too.
There have been many challenges and privations in the past year. Many have sadly lost loved ones, been unwell or seen loved ones suffer. We have lived under restrictions. Some have lost work, some have been working far too hard under difficult circumstances and parents have been struggling to work and home-school children. Youngsters have missed out. Amidst so much difficulty, it seems to me that there has been a quiet but deep seam of anguish running through many of our lives. It has been ever present but difficult to talk about. I know that writing this may make me cry, but separation from loved ones has been an ache in the heart and at its worst, heart-breaking.
On this Mothering Sunday many of us are separated from those people whose love shapes our identity, including mothers and fathers, siblings, children and dear friends, by distance or by masks and PPE. Parents remember the last time that they saw and hugged their children, and grandparents their grandchildren. For some people that was over a year ago. They know exactly how long because they have carried the absence and longing in their hearts.
Christian faith teaches us that God loves us with deep, motherly, tenderness. I love the image of God leading his people with bonds of love, as a parent with a toddler on reins. Perhaps this pandemic has opened our eyes and hearts to what is really most important, to our greatest needs and strongest priorities. ‘So now, faith, hope, and love abide, these three; but the greatest of these is love.’ When we can travel again, I’m going to go and see my mum and, hopefully, hug her and hold her hand.
In the meantime, there are signs of recovery and hope. The vaccination roll-out progresses through our communities. Children are going back to school. This week it will be a huge pleasure to see the boy choristers return to their places in the Quire for Evensong...
Please continue to take care of yourself and others.
Read in more detail, and opt to hear an audio version of her message, here.
I will close with a contemporary prayer by Angela Ashwin drawing on an ancient tradition (see for example, St Anselm 11c and Dame Julian of Norwich 14c) of experiencing the love of God as both motherly and fatherly.
Thank you, God, that you are tender as a mother,
as well as strong as a father.
You gave us life, and care for us
like a mother who will not forsake her children.
We pray for mothers today, putting them into your hands
for time and for eternity;
and we ask your blessing on all our relationships
in the families of our homes, our churches, and our communities.