A Playroom Full of Sorrow
It took me at least ten minutes to figure out what was happening. I’d gone to the library with my toddler, to the children’s playroom. As is often the case, we found many kids and caregivers. Only that day someone else was in the room, a woman sitting on a computer and typing. She looked slightly disgruntled. I couldn’t figure out which of the kids she belonged to and I wondered why she would choose to work in a noisy room full of kids. She didn’t have an interaction with a single one of them.
A friendly three year old came up to us, said hi and then, “I’m here playing with my mommy.”
She was gregarious and her mother was keenly attentive. It was her attentiveness that finally helped me understand she was being observed. She was having some kind of visitation with her daughter and the woman on the computer was the observer/social worker.
When the mother and child’s time together came to an end, the little girl began to cry. They’d been having such a fun time. Much love and connection had been expressed. Of course, I don’t know anything about their situation, yet it tugged at my heart, her little voice asking her mother not to leave–and knowing she had to.
It made me think of two important things: nobody has a perfect mother. Our earthly mothers are so full of human limitations and weaknesses. And secondly, we must have a larger vision of mother to support us.
We must have a living archetypal mother at work in our culture.
Of course I felt the little girl’s longing for her mother in an immediate way. But I also understood it as a larger longing, the longing of the collective, the longing of the meta-heart of our culture, for a restoration.
I felt it as the desire not to simply have “little visits,” which we might have in the form of self-care that works, or a nurturing friend, but to have that stable, solid, constancy. Not a mother who comes and goes, not a mother judged and unacceptable. Not a mother of insufficiency.
Even as I understood what I had seen and the complications of a particular situation I don’t know anything about, my own mother heart cracked open–for all children who long for their mothers. For all of us who long for a world in which there is honor for the mother, where mothering is a dignified work, where we have a sense of a Divine Mother among us. We have the Buddha, for example. And the Christ. You may or may not believe, worship or follow either of them, but they are there for you, as an idea, a concept, a divinity, an archetype. They hold a space in our personal and collective consciousness. They reside. They abide.
But the Mother? Not so.
Two things happened for me in that room. Sam, a mother and person, feeling empathy and tenderness. Also, Sam, the theologian, the teacher, the writer, the seeker, the student, experiencing the wound on its great cosmic scale, our separation from the concept of Great Mother–a separation from something so fundamental, so essential, so necessary, it is like a child missing her mother.
Having played with the little girl and talked to her mother, I felt compelled to share a song and asked them if I could. The little girl nodded and the mother gave consent. I knelt down and sang:
I’m in your heart, you’re in my heart, we’re always together even when we’re apart.
I made this song up after my divorce. I sang it all the time with my children–especially my youngest, to imprint upon her the truth that physical distance is not the whole truth. As she grew older, she sang it back to me and we would often spend the whole car ride to her dad’s singing this song.
It is for this depth of understanding that we practice yoga, study with enlightened masters, follow a spiritual path, meditate, read holy works, and serve. To know we are not separate from, or separated from, our Source.
Yet it is on the level of the mystical and the metaphysical where we have the littlest teaching, the smallest understanding and the greatest absence of support.
To learn to feel that closeness with Source takes a lifetime. And that source can’t simply be an outcropping of the limitations of our own minds or the barriers of our own cultural moment. It must be and has to be greater, bigger, more and more Whole. We miss our Mother, in an ancient way, often in an unrecognizable way. Not just our earthly mother or some version of her we wish she had been, but the archetype of the Great Mother herself. Putting her back where she belongs, in the heart of our endeavors as seekers and lovers and learners and students, restores not just her, but us. We become children who don’t feel She’s only here for a short and insignificant visit. We know who She is. We know what She is worth. We know that She is Ours.
I do invite you to consider joining the Sacred Order of the Great Mother. Membership closes on the 26th of this month. Come and begin an incredible journey! You can also learn more from my latest youtube video about the archetype of the Great Mother.
Wow Sam! Beautiful in so many ways. I totally agree that we have a longing for Mother… and that “ learning to feel closeness to Source takes a lifetime.” An archetype of the Great Mother herself. I believe this is an aspect of emotional disturbance rarely identified. Too much focus on the earthly mother for whom we modern humans have pinned an inordinate amount of responsibility for our emotional & mental stability or instability. Rarely do we consider the Whole. Thank you for such an expansive and provocative piece Sam!💙
Yes! I appreciate the insight about our focus on the earthly mother. Do you think if we had more of a sense of the Great Mother that we would be less fixated and critical of mothers in general?
Moving on multiple levels. Thanks, Sam.
Thank you, Amy!
What an incredible kindness this act of service for that child and her mother. That could be life changing for both. I want to learn this song. I want to sing it with my own mother.
What a great idea! I will teach it to you. It’s very simple and you sing it over and over like a chant.