Netzach. Forever. Netzach she’b’chesed. Forever Love.
What does that even look like? Like a mother’s love? Maybe?
We talked about that today, in my Sacred Texts and Oral Traditions class. So many cultures tell stories about the Mother of all life. Why, we asked, is this archetype so powerful?
Because, I said, we believe in an ideal mother. But none of us gets one. We only get a real mother.
Students then spoke of their mothers. “I was adopted and when I found my birth mother, she rejected me.” “My mother was hard on me, but we worked it out.” “Now I understand my mother was very young, so I forgive her.”
In their minds, the students knew: we only get a real mother. But in their hearts, they yearned for something else. A mother who would love them before they were born, while they were alive, and after they died. A perfect love, forever.
Each morning, they woke up hoping. And each day they cried themselves to sleep, disappointed. Maybe not literally. But that’s how deeply their hearts were broken.
The prophet Isaiah understands. Channeling God, he says: Can a woman forget her baby, Or disown the child of her womb? Though she might forget, I never could forget you (49:15).
The ideal mother, Isaiah says, loves her child, forever. But maybe the only mother you saw up close wasn’t ideal. Maybe she was only real. And maybe she did forget you, sometimes. But don’t despair, he says. You do have an ideal mother. A forever being, not bound by time or space, who loves you forever.
Maybe the cultural stories about first Mothers say something like that, too. We all have a mythical mother, alive beyond time and space. She’s always there for us to turn to.
Maybe she is like the Potawatomi Skywoman, who shares the love she got from the animals. Or the Torah’s Eve, who loves despite the pain it brings her. Or the Quran’s Mrs. Adam, steady supervisor of the world household. Or Mary Magdalene of John’s gospel, a caring spiritual teacher.
She doesn’t live on earth. But maybe she lives in our hearts.
Today was the fourth day of the Omer.
New to the Omer Count? Here’s a primer.