I had a salutary experience this week. I get on very well with the wonderful asylum seeker who worships at our church with her two children. I’ve eaten with her, looked after her children, laughed and cried, and waited for the results of her asylum application with her. So when she has something to say, I listen.
A few months ago she threw me when she called me ‘Mother Dana’. I baulked at the title, partly historically because I was taught ‘Call no man father’ (and therefore, no woman mother), and partly because I don’t feel I can live up to the title.
But after the Ash Wednesday service, she told her child to ‘Say thank you to Mother Dana’. Then she turned to me and told me that she had to use my ‘title’ with her children as it showed respect of the authority that the church has given me.
This was a moment of acknowledging my persona even when it seems to conflict with my person. I can’t possibly live up to all the title ‘Mother’ implies. I’m only human. But perhaps I don’t have to.
I think my calling is to be at the interface between God and humanity – as it is for many people, and maybe especially for clergy. So I don’t need to be more than to try and be true to what God is calling me to be. Maybe I will learn to grow into ‘Mother Dana’ after all.