5/08/2013

Palimpsest for Mother's Day


A Mother’s Heart

I Kings 17:8-24

Readings
It is true that the widow needed Elijah, but the prophet first needed her. Desperately thirsty, he asked her for water. Hungry, he asked her for bread. Her generous response was rewarded with an undiminished supply....These are common folkloric themes and may represent some legendary embellishment of the facts. Some commentators suggest that the boy did not die but was unconscious or in a coma. Whatever the specifics, the widow and the prophet were mutually dependent on each other to the point of maintaining life. That a widow was chosen to provide for the prophet is a particularly poignant point, for she herself had no provisions and no one to provide for her. A childless widow was a family responsibility in terms of securing an heir, but a widowed mother was on her own and had to struggle to survive. Nevertheless God sent the prophet to the woman so that he might be nourished by her. This relationship between the religious figure and the woman should not be overlooked. – Miriam Therese Winter, WomanWisdom

“You’re a demanding fellow, Elijah,” the Voice said. “You call me demanding,” was the prophet’s rejoinder. “Just look at all that you have asked of me.”
“Well, at least I never asked for your last grains of flour and last drops of oil to make me a pancake.” The Voice came back again, dripping with irony. “If I hadn’t kept slipping more provisions into that widow’s house, you all would have starved.”
“I had faith that you would come through for the widow and semi-orphan, even if you wouldn’t think of helping me. You see I know you have a soft spot for wounded types, even if they are foreigners. I knew you wouldn’t let them down.” Now there was a touch of incredulity in the Voice. “Well, who wouldn’t be moved to mercy when you see your own prophet taking the last morsel of food out of the mouths of a widow and her hcild, even if they are foreigners?” The last phrase mimicked Elijah’s own intonation. “Show some mercy now, O Mericful One. I am sure it’s no news to you that the child is dead. Is that what passes for mercy these days?” Elijah was irritable now, and his voice revealed it.
– The Storyteller’s Companion, Judges-Kings, Michael Williams, editor

Ain’t I a woman? Look at me
Look at my arm! I have plowed and planted
and gathered into barns and no man could head me...
And ain’t I a woman? I could work as much and eat as much as a man -–
When I could get it – and bear the lash as well and ain’t I a woman?
I have born thirteen children and seen most all sold into slavery
and when I cried out a mother’s grief none but Jesus hear me...
and ain’t I a woman?...
If the first woman God ever made was strong enough to turn the world
upside down, all alone, 
together women ought to be able to turn it rightside up again.
– Sojourner Truth

Questions:
  • How does the widow of Zarepath advocate for her own child? What does she use?
  • How do we move from advocating for the children we know to the world’s children?

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