I use the terms Patron Saints and Spiritual Mothers to explain how I feel about the women intrinsically linked to my spiritual journey. It’s an imperfect metaphor, but I call them my mothers because, in a way, it’s like they helped give birth to some new part of me. They were the midwives – by their lives, their faith, their obedience, their work, their prayers – for the work that God has birthed in me, and through me.
These women have mothered – nurtured, nourished, sourced, watched over – my spiritual journey.
Most of them won’t ever know that they influenced me as much as they did, but it’s true. God used them powerfully in my life, simply by living their own lives in obedience to God.
In my personal life, I have my mother, of course (if you’ve read here any amount of time, you are already well acquainted with her), and my sister, my Auntie Donna, my grandmothers, even my great-grandmothers, my mother-in-law. I have had women in my faith communities like Janet, Ruthanne, Karen, Eloise, Lisa, Tracy, Steph, Bonnie, Natalie, so many. I have plenty of “little sisters” in the faith, there, too, young women that I “mentored” throughout the years that have wound up teaching me more than I taught them like Abbie, Natalie, Bianca, Kelsey, and so many others dear souls.
There are biblical mothers like Junia and Phoebe, Huldah and Tabitha, Lydia, Mary Mother of God, Mary Magdalene, Mary and Martha of Bethany, Abigail, Esther, Vashti, Priscilla.
There are the women of church history like Florence Nightingale, Mother Theresa, Dorothy Day, Amy Semple McPherson, Corrie Ten Boom, St. Therese de Lisieux, the Salvation Army’s Evangeline Booth, and Gladys Aylward, on and on.
Then there’s the writers and thinkers that mother me: Luci Shaw, Madeline L’Engle, Kathleen Norris, Anne Lamott, Lauren Winner, Jennie Allen, Ann Voskamp, Jen Hatmaker, Rachel Held Evans, Phyllis Tickle, Mary Oliver, L.M. Montgomery so many more.
There are all of the bloggers, my secret tribes (otherwise, I’d link them all up), the SheLoves Magazine and Deeper Story families, and my real-life friends, a beautiful collection of souls, my very own girls.
What could I call them but a congregation of saints?
And then there are the thousands of unnamed, unnoticed women in our lineage of faith, the ones famous only in Heaven, and I honour them, too.
All of them are with me, here, as I write and work and mother and love and live into the mission of God in my right-now life. These women are with you, too, I know.
So that got me wondering, who are the women that mothered you, in your own journey of faith?
Who are your spiritual mothers?
Writers, preachers, pastors, mamas, missionaries, teachers, labourers – I don’t really care.
I’d love to make space here for their names and stories. Tell me?
(I have spiritual fathers – and brothers – too, but I’ll save them for another day soon. Stay tuned… We don’t want to forget our men.)