Like as a father pitieth his children, so the LORD pitieth them that fear him.
Psalm 103:13, King James Version
The mother’s service is nearest, readiest and surest: nearest because it is most natural, readiest because it is most loving, and surest because it is truest.
Julian of Norwich, Showings, Long text, ch. 60
A little background: I learned to sing the psalm’s words when I was in high school choir. John Ness Beck’s arrangement (which has become a staple in church and school choirs) echoes in my head when I come to this psalm. I was in my forties before I read Julian of Norwich, who has garnered a lot of contemporary attention because of her theology of Christ as our Mother.
Yesterday before I left for my surgery, Beck’s music was playing in my head. I had time to listen to a high school choir perform it on YouTube, so that the loveliness stayed with me. I believe in a father’s loving care—I was a Daddy’s girl, after all. I like men, but in the past five years especially, it’s the care of a motherly woman that I want as I deal with cancer.
My mother has been gone now for more than a decade, but I am blessed in my motherly friends, not all of whom are female. I pushed away a lot of offers for help during chemo, which was nothing but pride. Some of those offers came from men; however, I’ve found the company of women to be more soothing in general.
A surgery date brings out the best in these maternal friends. One called the night before this surgery, just to see how my spirits were. She also came to spend time with me last night, with groceries in hand. One friend called the morning of surgery to tell me she’d be thinking of me. Another friend took me to the hospital and waited, then drive me home and spent a few hours with me so I wouldn’t be alone, despite the fact that this was an outpatient surgery. My priest, who is a woman, asks me to call after each surgery. One of the nurturing males in my life called to see how the procedure went and how I was feeling.
I kept thinking about these texts, however, and all the women who ferried me to chemo sessions, waited during procedures and surgeries, brought food, made prayer shawls, did my dishes, and told me I’d make it. They have been the feminine face of God for me, showing the compassion of a mother.