Mortals, join the mighty chorus which the morning stars began! Mother love is reigning o’er us; sister love binds hand to hand. Ever singing, walk we onward, victors in the midst of strife; joyful music leads us forward in the triumph song of life!
(from the hymn, “Joyful, Joyful, We Adore Thee,” text modified by Marchienne Vroon Rienstra)
To sing the song of victory, we have to first risk trusting God, we have to move forward. Calling God Mother helps me with that, and being a mother does, too. Sometimes, love for my son Marshall will push me when I’d rather be at home.
Since we took Marshall out of school due to a child bullying him, he has wanted nothing but to stay on the computer. He used to jump for 3 hours a day on the trampoline. Now he avoids going outside much of the time.
But sometimes, in warm weather, he plays in the mud. We don’t know why; he hates even the feeling of soap on him due to Sensory Processing Disorder.
So I found a Mud Run going on. And he wanted to go. We planned it, but both Joel and I dragged our collective four feet. Who would do it with him? Neither of us are athletic or into mud. And would Marshall really enjoy it, be able to do it?
But finally at 12:00 on the day of the Mud Run there were no excuses. We looked up the registration and saw plenty of open spots for the 1:00 wave, the last of the day. Even the weather, overcast, made it a go.
We gathered towels, clean clothes, water, books for Sam for the ride. I even found our lost camera in a black save-the-earth Fred Meyer bag.
When we got to the farm, grown women with wet t-shirts and mud up to their necks were walking back to their cars with tired, dirty kids. The moms looked like they could do women’s professional wrestling.
I gave them my internal salute as I slathered on coconut oil and put the camera in my purse and Sam’s water in my skort pocket, grateful I had a stand-in for the mud wrestle. Joel was going to do it.
Joel, Marshall and Sam were already lining up to register for the 1:00 wave. Marshall saw the liability form and said, “Danger? This is dangerous?” but took his bag of complimentary gifts.
And we made our way down to the line. Joel looked serious. I said, “Don’t do anything you don’t want to.” Marshall had the same worried look on his face as Joel, but they stood side by side and waited as Sam and I watched.
Over the loud-speaker we heard, “Are you READY?” Lots of whooping it up followed.
And again, “Are you READY???!!!!” Ack. It might be a sensory nightmare if the loudspeaker woman kept it up.
But, no, with a “Go!” she kept quiet and the group of about thirty kids and parents trotted off.
Sam and I watched Joel and Marshall eventually slow down to a walk. Sam and I lingered by a grey bunny in a cage, and a man and woman who were chuckling over whatever was on her I-Phone.
The guy passed gas as we walked by, and I reflected on what Raffi said in his autobiography about the general spiritual malaise in North America these days.
But Raffi wrote his book in 1998. Today, I’d say, it’s more like spiritual gassiness. How could gathering around a screen in the great outdoors make us better humans?
Speaking of screen time, I’d gotten up early to find the Restrictions setting on the iPad, to turn off Safari and put every limit on troublesome viewing, including YouTube. We have to fight our spiritual battles locally, first.
But Marshall is fighting his own. Last night he happily told me the last chapter of his series about Marshall Land: “Every one does good because…well, no one wants to do evil.” This is the first time he’s been able to embrace this possibility, since being traumatized by repeated horror stories from the bully.
And during the Mud Run, Micah also embraced courage, the foundation of spiritual strength. He climbed over a rope structure, went through bubbles, took a rope over mud, and slogged through one last mud puddle. For a kid with Sensory Processing Disorder, this was trophy-worthy.
When he let go of the rope over the mud puddle, it hit him in the head and he looked disoriented. I rushed over to meet him to say, “You did it! I’m proud of you” with a lump in my throat.
When he finished all the obstacles, he smiled so big that his dimples showed. “I’m proud of myself!” he said.
We washed Marshall off at the outdoor shower and talked about lunch. Marshall wanted to eat at our old favorite Mexican Restaurant, from when life was safer, The Manzanilla.
We relished our food. Marshall was living in the Real World again. This was his victory moment, at least the beginning of victory.
And this is our victory moment, too—the Mama’s and Papa’s. This is the day I’ve been praying for, a living into the light and the earth, for all of us. Marshall free from the pull of the Internet, able to choose what to do and not staying on the couch all day out of fear.
But it took some risk taking on our part. It was hard to put our shoes on and go out the door, not knowing what we were doing or if Marshall would get through it.
Is that how God feels when She takes us on, when She chooses to run with us, climb obstacles with us, and try to get to the end of the course together?
Maybe She is always risking. Maybe that’s just Mother God’s life with us, and when we are growing, our life with Mother God.
But just like Joel and I wanted Marshall to have fun and grow more than we wanted out own comfort, so does Mother God want to take us into adventurous new places of joy and love, even when a rope hits us in the head on the way or when we are slathered with mud at the end.
And we know She will be there at the Finish line, with a “You did it! I’m so proud of you!”
What metaphorical Mud Run are you afraid of? Does calling God “Mother” help with risk-taking?