Conversations about the religious and spiritual life on the other side of fundamentalism
351:  An Advent Reflection on the Suffering of Mothers:  Renee McDonald & Kristin Jensen

351: An Advent Reflection on the Suffering of Mothers: Renee McDonald & Kristin Jensen

Photo Credit: Jenn Lewald ‘Belly’ @ Flickr

While we honour the expectant Mary at Advent, we rarely discuss her in the context of the suffering of pregnancy and birth.  Our sacred texts and Christmas stories leave out the intensely feminine experience of a mother’s body,  bruised and broken for the sake of Jesus.  Too often written out of the reflections on Advent are the earthiness, the blood and mess of pregnancy and childbirth and the scars it all leaves on women’s bodies.

ReNee McDonald and Kristin Jensen, two women at different stages in their mothering, join me to discuss the suffering of mothers.


  1. Tammra Goodrich

    The thought you read at the beginning “To be a Mother” was amazing. Can you add the printed version to your website, or perhaps tell me where to find it. It was so beautiful.

    1. Gina Colvin

      “God Our Mother” by Allison Woodard:

      To be a Mother is to suffer;

      To travail in the dark,

      stretched and torn,

      exposed in half-naked humiliation,

      subjected to indignities

      for the sake of new life.

      To be a Mother is to say,

      “This is my body, broken for you,”

      And, in the next instant, in response to the created’s primal hunger,

      “This is my body, take and eat.”

      To be a Mother is to self-empty,

      To neither slumber nor sleep,

      so attuned You are to cries in the night—

      Offering the comfort of Yourself,

      and assurances of “I’m here.”

      To be a Mother is to weep

      over the fighting and exclusions and wounds

      your children inflict on one another;

      To long for reconciliation and brotherly love

      and—when all is said and done—

      To gather all parties, the offender and the offended,

      into the folds of your embrace

      and to whisper in their ears

      that they are Beloved.

      To be a mother is to be vulnerable—

      To be misunderstood,

      Railed against,


      For the heartaches of the bewildered children

      who don’t know where else to cast

      the angst they feel

      over their own existence

      in this perplexing universe

      To be a mother is to hoist onto your hips those on whom your image is imprinted,

      bearing the burden of their weight,

      rejoicing in their returned affection,

      delighting in their wonder,

      bleeding in the presence of their pain.

      To be a mother is to be accused of sentimentality one moment,

      And injustice the next.

      To be the Receiver of endless demands,

      Absorber of perpetual complaints,

      Reckoner of bottomless needs.

      To be a mother is to be an artist;

      A keeper of memories past,

      Weaver of stories untold,

      Visionary of lives looming ahead.

      To be a mother is to be the first voice listened to,

      And the first disregarded;

      To be a Mender of broken creations,

      And Comforter of the distraught children

      whose hands wrought them.

      To be a mother is to be a Touchstone

      and the Source,

      Bestower of names,

      Influencer of identities;

      Life giver,

      Life shaper,




      Original Love.

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