Meinrad Craighead: God the Mother

11 August 08 | Posted in Animals, Spirituality, U.S. Catholic

As the sun rises, a slight, gray-haired woman emerges onto the worn plank porch of her house and pours a glass of water out onto the sandy soil, lifts the cup to the sun, then drinks the rest of it.

In this daily ritual, artist Meinrad Craighead rebaptizes herself, making a short prayer to God as Mother: “You have given me life. This is my daily prayer. You’re going to take care of me.”

Her work portrays in vivid color both an active visual dialogue with God and a keen sense of the brooding, watching, beckoning power she finds in the land around her, in the sky above, the earth below, in the animals, in our dreams.

Her first real religious experience, at age 7, was not in church but in nature, with her dog, she said. She had retreated from the heat of a summer day to the shade of some hydrangea bushes.  Under the flowers’ blue dome, she found herself gazing into her dog’s eyes. “They were as deep, as bewildering, as unattainable as a night sky,” she said of the eyes, and as she stared she felt a rush of water coming from deep within her. meinrad_dog.JPG

“I listened to the sound of water inside, saw a woman’s face, and understood: This is God. Soon after this I came upon a photo in a book of a statue of a woman. The recognition was immediate, certain: I knew this was the woman I’d heard inthe water and whose face I had seen in the dog’s eyes. This discovery brought a sense of well-being and gratitude, which has never diminished. Because she was a living force within me, she was more real, more powerful than the remote ‘Father’ I was educated to have faith in.”

“God the Mother came to me and, as children will do, I kept her a secret. We hid together inside the structures of institutional Catholicism. Through half a lifetime of Catholic liturgies, during my school years, in my professional work as an educator, for 14 years in a monastery, she lived at my innermost center, the groundsill of my spirituality.” god.bmp

Read the whole, glorious article, Art and Spirituality: In the name of the mother, by Richard Heffern here.

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