Why Ma?

I was not expressly raised with an awareness the Divine Feminine. A very reformed New York Jewish upbringing and an absence of particularly empowered female or feminist role models in my direct sphere of influence didn’t exactly set the stage for this path that I, and many others in the western world, now find ourselves on.

Yet like every single one of us, I come from Her, and was held against Her breast and fed Her love from the very moment of my inception. Manifest as the mother who carried and birthed me, reflected in every element of the natural world, Ma has always been there. Somewhere along the way, I simply noticed myself awash in love with Her in a way I didn’t really understand; yet I understood that I did not need to. The Love simply was, just as I unwaveringly trust that She simply Is.

When I relate to Her, it’s not like a child reaching toward its mother. I am a child reaching toward my Mother. This is the way that I best feel my connection to the Divine, the Great Mystery, the Universe, Life. She is God and Goddess, man and woman, darkness and light all as One. I know all this. I trust all this. Yet it is in Her form of Mother, of the Ultimate Creatrix who gives and sustains life, who’s Love is omnipresent, compassion limitless and patience boundless that I find my deepest resonance.

The world as we know it is Her womb that we are held in. As a woman, my blessing is to embody a microcosm of this macrocosm, and in connecting to my own womb I experience moments of intense grace and deep presence abiding in Her. The more I open myself to Know Her, the more I find Her everywhere, in everyone, at every moment. The more I let go of my ideas about Her and about myself, the more I feel held and nourished and aware that She is with me always.

This morning I reached for Her in a moment of deep tenderness; despair even. Lately I feel as if I am treading far out in the deeply churning waters of the cosmic ocean. In my quest for greater authenticity and awareness, Life has led me to live in very different ways than I once knew. I experience periods of so much let go of the old ways that there are times when I fear there is nothing left to hold onto, and so I cling to whatever shreds of the familiar I can find. In the moments when I don’t recognize aspects of my own self, it’s scary and overwhelming and the greatest opportunity I have to abide more and more deeply in my trust of Her. She is showing me my true Self.

So today I sat at my altar, which I setup everywhere I go along my many travels. Right now I’m staying down below the earth, in the basement bedroom of a house in southern Vermont that I have known for almost my entire life. My altar is there. Outside, it is New England autumn at its finest, brightly colored leaves turning and falling away, sun streaking through the sky boldly then giving way to cool rain. My environment reflects my inner experience here, and that is soothing to me somehow.

After my morning prayers, some breath work and ritual offering, I often like to chant mantras and bhajans, names of the Divine, songs I’ve learned by and carry in my heart thanks to my years of spending time at ashrams, in kirtans and accompanied by other yogis walking the path of bhakti, devotion. Today, however, no particular chant seemed to pass through my lips. I sat waiting; expecting that inspiration would strike eventually and I would open my voice as the expression of my heart and sing.

Instead, “Ma” is what came out. The sound that is so universal, understood as Mother the world over, certainly a sacred syllable in its own right. It is simpler than the chants I often sing and yet encapsulates such vast complexity that I could never hope to fully understand it in this life. “Ma”.

Over and over I let this syllable pour out of me, listening as my intonation and intention changed while the repetition continued. “Mmmmmmmmaaaaaaa” and then “MMMMMMMAAAAAAAAAAA” mixed with “MA!” and so many subtle distinctions in between. It wasn’t very long before the tears were pouring out of me as well, child that I am reaching toward my Mother.

I cried my tender despair and my fierce longing and my confusion and my gratitude and my love. I cried my reverence and my wonder and my desire and my doubt. I cried my joy and my pain and my devotion and my frustration. My tears are just like that precious syllable “Ma”. They say so much. They mean everything. And I know She understands it all.

As for me, in the moments of my tears and right now as my fingers click across the keyboard and in a little while when I’ll go hike through the vastness of the forest, somewhere inside I know I will never love nor be loved bigger than the Love She has for me. I will never be held as wholly and strongly. So I ask Her to help me let go of my suffering, of my clinging to old ways. I ask Her to help me realize this Truth in every moment, rather than just select ones. I ask Her to help me abide fully in Love, to be Her emissary as I move through the world, to radiate Her Light.

I ask Her for this as Her child, asking to be taught how to rest in Her arms just as an infant knows to. I am asking to unlearn and untangle all the unnecessary input that has brought me so far away from Her Truth. I am asking not to be forgiven, for I know She holds no judgment against me, but to forgive myself for my own humanity and to open as a clear channel to Her Grace. Only the Mother could do this. And that is why Ma, for me.