Jesus, as a mother you gather your people to you; you are gentle with us as a mother with her children. (Canticle Q, A Song of Christ’s Goodness by St. Anselm of Canterbury. Enriching Our Worship 1. p.39).
One of the messages I have to tell myself over and over is to be gentle with myself. I remember the first time someone said those words to me, “Be gentle with yourself.” It wasn’t long after my father died. I was filled with grief along with many emotions. As a way of trying to escape from my grief, I tried to do everything I always did as if there was nothing wrong. When it all caught up with me, I found it necessary to let go of so many things for a while. I felt so guilty for letting other people down. One person who was among them said to me, “Be gentle with yourself, you have things you need to give attention right now. Give yourself permission to let go.”
The words I quoted below the picture, are strange. We don’t think of Jesus in the feminine. The message here is what the gender symbolizes. There is nothing so wonderful and intimate; as when a mother tenderly picks up her baby and holds the child near her heart. Whatever crisis the child may be experiencing; the mother is there to receive the child and provide her loving and tender care. She knows that as the child grows older, she won’t be able to hold the child as close. The child will get bigger. The child will go many places where she will not be able to hold and comfort the child in quite the same way. But, for that single moment in time, she gets to hold this child and give her love.
In Jesus Christ, God loves all of us as tenderly as a mother loves her child. Jesus gathers us in the arms of God in the midst of our sorrows, confusion and grief. He holds all of us in the bosom of God’s heart; in the enfolding embrace of holy love and grace. He does not let us go. We are never too far from His sight. In the contemplative vision, we are always embraced from God’s perspective to continue our journey back to God who is our true and everlasting end.
Br. Anselm Philip King-Lowe, n/OSB