Mother’s Day and the Prayer of Recollection

2011 Glen Rock, NJ. With my mother’s statue “Spring.”

It is Mother’s Day, in a time of pandemic. In northeastern Pennsylvania, the temperatures dropped below freezing yesterday. It snowed, and a wicked west wind blew so hard my truck door slammed on my leg while I was getting out. Snow fell on my just budding lilac bush, and the tender leaves freeze-burned brown in hours. 

The world is a strange place and no stranger than now. The natural world both mirrors and grounds us. We are not alone in all of this, even as we are at the mercy of the forces that support and surround us.

There is a practice in the Christian Mystical tradition called The Prayer of Recollection. Described in the 16th century by St. Teresa of Avila, it is a prayer we can do, and benefit from its grace partly by our efforts. Its basis is that God, the Mother/Father/Beloved, is within us and it is in the silence of the soul and the heart that She speaks. We need only “recollect” our scattered selves under this care, where all is reconciled and pardoned. It is both active and effortless, for, as Teresa says:

“However quietly we speak, She is so near that She will hear us: we need no wings to go in search of Her but have only to find a place where we can be alone, and look upon Her present within us.” “The Way of Perfection”; St. Teresa of Avila.

This is the Great Mother. It’s the Shepherdess of the 23rd Psalm, who collects her scattered flock at days end, traveling near and far to bring the lost, injured, newborn, or sick to shelter and rest. Or the mother hen, who gathers her chicks under the warm safety of her wings and settles them till morning light. 

In Hinduism, this Great Goddess is Ma Durga – the protective Mother of the Universe who rides upon a tiger and battles evil forces with her multiple limbs. In Sanskrit, Durga means “a fort” or “a place that is difficult to overrun.”

Perhaps it’s this divine force who shelters us now, while the world outside is undone. Ordered to our homes, we can recollect what we love and cherish most. Meanwhile, Mother Earth is granted her own reprieve from the burden of our presence. 

These are hard times but there is holiness here. We all come from our Mother, and to our Mother, we will return. While we are here, our Earth Mother holds us, and we walk upon her. May we pray ourselves into recollection today, while we gather and shelter – alone, yet together.

***

“Beloved Child
You are the light of the world
Beloved Child
Go out
Spread light
To the world
Be Strong
Be Kind
Be Brave
Know you’re mine
Know that you’re divine
Know that it’s alright
To be
Afraid.”

“In Dreams”
Jai Jagdeesh

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