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A Hungering for Her

This photo is a closeup of about a dozen peonies in colors ranging from very light pink to dusty rose.Hunger. Hunger is a funny thing. Do you ever get busy doing something for a  long time and you just forget to eat? You’re so consumed in the task at hand,  then suddenly, BOOM, it hits you. It comes in pangs, physically painful. All of a  sudden it’s right there in the forefront demanding your attention, even though  your stomach was just as empty 10 minutes ago. 

That’s how my experience has been with Heavenly Mother. I was going along  busy with my life, focusing on my tasks until BOOM. It was just right there. A  hunger for a relationship with my divine Mother. The pangs were palpable.  Painful. And I gave them my attention. 

I gave a talk in this ward a few years ago. I was preparing notes on my phone,  typing the scripture in John 3:16: “For God so loved the world, that he gave his  only begotten Son…” only, my phone auto-corrected “he” to “she”. For God so  loved the world, that SHE  

It halted me. It healed me. It reminded me that Jesus Christ has a mother, too. A  Heavenly Mother. And She must have been in favor of the Plan that brought Him  here, too. 

Since then, I’ve gone on a quest of likening the scriptures to me, inserting myself  into the verses where that applies, for example, 2 Nephi 2:25, “Eve fell that women might be, and women are that they might have joy”, and adding Heavenly  Mother into verses where, if She and the Father truly are equal as the Family  Proclamation suggests, Her presence is only logical as well. In fact, the Hebrew  word for Elohim that was often translated to “God” in the ancient text we read  today as scripture, is actually plural. El was the male God, Elah the female.  Elohim, then, can be read as both of them, together.  

From prophets to poets, Heavenly Mother has been preached and praised and  sung about since the beginning of the restoration. 

The Church-published Gospel Topics Essay “Mother in Heaven” states, “The  doctrine of a Heavenly Mother is a cherished and distinctive belief among Latter day Saints.” Yet, at a broader, more local level, we rarely hear about Her today.  Why is this?  

Have you ever heard that Heavenly Mother is too sacred to talk about? Or, being  protected by Father? Me too. There has been a “sacred silence” surrounding Her  for decades upon decades. Would you rejoice to learn that those notions are  actually just a myth? 

A BYU Studies Article titled “A Mother There”, analyzed “over six hundred  sources of all types referencing a Heavenly Mother since 1844”. In it, we read  this report: 

“we have found no public record of a General Authority advising us to be silent  about our Heavenly Mother; indeed. . . many General Authorities have openly  taught about her.”  

The Gospel Topics Essay “Mother in Heaven” also states:  

The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints teaches that all human beings,  male and female, are beloved spirit children of heavenly parents, a Heavenly  Father and a Heavenly Mother. This understanding is rooted in scriptural and  prophetic teachings about the nature of God, our relationship to Deity, and the  godly potential of men and women.  

In 1909, the First Presidency of the Church wrote: “All men and women are in the  similitude of the universal Father and Mother and are literally the sons and  daughters of Deity.” In 1995, the Church officially reaffirmed the doctrine of a  Heavenly Mother in “The Family: A Proclamation to the World”, quote, “All human  beings—male and female—are created in the image of God. Each is a beloved  spirit son or daughter of heavenly parents, and, as such, each has a divine  nature and destiny.”  

In the Come Follow Me reading just a few weeks ago, we read D&C 42:61: “If  thou shalt ask, thou shalt receive revelation upon revelation, knowledge upon  knowledge, that thou mayest know the mysteries and peaceable things—that  which bringeth joy, that which bringeth life eternal.”  

For me, Heavenly Mother has always felt a bit like a mystery. She seemed to only  be found in poems, like Eliza R. Snow’s poem “Invocation, or the Eternal Father  and Mother”, which became the beloved hymn “O My Father”,  

I had learned to call thee Father,

Thru thy Spirit from on high,

But, until the key of knowledge

Was restored, I knew not why.

In the heav’ns are parents single?

No, the thought makes reason stare!

Truth is reason; truth eternal

Tells me I’ve a mother there.

When I leave this frail existence,

When I lay this mortal by,

Father, Mother, may I meet you

In your royal courts on high?

Then, at length, when I’ve completed

All you sent me forth to do,

With your mutual approbation

Let me come and dwell with you.

Or W.W. Phelp’s poem “Come to Me” published around the same time:

Come to me where the truth and the virtues prevail;

Where the union is one, and the years never fail;

Where a heart can’t conceive, nor a nat’ral eye see,

What the Lord has prepar’d for the just: Come to me.

Come to me, will ye come to the mansion above,

Where the bliss and the knowledge, the light, and the love, And the glory of God, do eternally be?

Death, the wages of sin, is not here: Come to me.

Come to me, here are Adam and Eve at the head

Of a multitude, quicken’d and rais’d from the dead;

Here’s the knowledge that was, or that is, or will be–

In the gen’ral assembly of worlds: Come to me.

Come to me, here’s the myst’ry that man hath not seen; Here’s our Father in heaven, and Mother, the Queen;

Here are worlds that have been, and the worlds yet to be, Here’s eternity,–endless; amen: Come to me.

It wasn’t until very recently, like, yesterday, after a conversation with my husband  in which we established that She definitely is not explicitly mentioned in the  scriptures, that I learned that she actually is! 

Jeremiah 44 documents a conversation between the Israealite people who have  just become refugees and Jeremiah the prophet, in which they try to tell  Jeremiah that the reason they are being punished is that they have not been  performing sacrifices to Her. In verses 17 and 18 they say:  

17 But we will certainly do whatsoever thing goeth forth out of our own mouth, to  burn incense unto the queen of heaven, and to pour out drink offerings unto her,  as we have done, we, and our fathers, our kings, and our princes, in the cities of  Judah, and in the streets of Jerusalem: for then had we plenty of victuals, and  were well, and saw no evil.  

18 But since we left off to burn incense to the queen of heaven, and to pour out  drink offerings unto her, we have wanted all things, and have been consumed by  the sword and by the famine.  

Jeremiah tells them that it is because of their wickedness rather than their lack of  obeisance that they are being punished, but I love this little glimpse into the  rituals and religious practices of their day, and I couldn’t believe that our Bible  specifically mentions ancient worship of the Queen of Heaven!  

Then there is also Wisdom personified, referred to in the book of Proverbs and  others, which scholars suggest could be another reference to Heavenly Mother.  One of those scholars, Margaret Barker, a Methodist scholar and archaeologist.  writes,  

The wise one who wrote the first section of the Book of Proverbs clearly knew  who Wisdom was, and there is good reason to believe that the other writers of  the Old Testament knew her too. In Proverbs 8, for example, there is a wonderful  poem about the Second Person present at the creation – a female Second  Person present at the creation!- assisting the Creator as the world is brought into  being.  

When he established the heaven I was there, when he drew a circle on the face  of the deep, when he made firm the skies above…  

I was beside him, like… (Proverbs 8. 27-8, 30)  

Like what? Here there is a word which does not appear anywhere else in the  Hebrew Scriptures, but is related to the word meaning craftsman. When this  passage was translated into Greek, the word chosen was ‘the woman who holds  things together’ harmozousa, which can also mean ‘the woman who keeps things  in tune’. Wisdom, then, was understood to be the female figure who joined things  together, kept things harmonious. If I tell you now that the word for devil,  diabolos, means the one who deceives and creates discord, you may begin to  glimpse the importance of Wisdom, and what the neglect of Wisdom has brought  upon us. The Book of Enoch, which is not in our Old Testament but was Scripture  for the early Christians, teaches a great deal about Wisdom. Most significant,  perhaps, is the information that just before the first temple was destroyed, at the  end of the seventh century BCE, she was rejected by the priests in Jerusalem,  and as a result, they lost their vision. The spiritual eyes of the priests were  closed.  

To put things into perspective, Lehi and his family left just before these events. In  the same article, titled “Wisdom and the Stewardship of Knowledge”, Margaret  says,  

Those who first heard the story of the Garden of Eden knew the Tree of Life as  the symbol of Wisdom, and its fruits as her gifts: true riches, spiritual sight,  everlasting life, and peace. Peace, the Hebrew word shalom, means far more  than ‘absence of war or discord’. It was one of the key concepts of the Wisdom  tradition, and included ideas of harmony, wholeness, integrity – the creation as it  was on the sixth day, when God saw that everything was very good. The fruit of  the Tree of Life held all things together in harmony.

President Rudger Clawson, former President of the Quorum of the Twelve  Apostles said, “It doesn’t take from our worship of the Eternal Father, to adore  our Eternal Mother, any more than it diminishes the love we bear our earthly  fathers, to include our earthly mothers in our affections.” Rather, “we honor  woman when we acknowledge Godhood in her eternal prototype.”  

Elder Jeffrey R. Holland and his wife, Patricia, have taught that our Mother and  our Father are involved in the ongoing process of creating everything around us,  and “are doing so lovingly and carefully and masterfully.”  

Elder Dallin H. Oaks has said, “Our theology begins with heavenly parents. Our  highest aspiration is to be like them.”  

Another quote from the BYU studies article referenced in the Church’s Gospel  Topics Essay says, “The Heavenly Mother portrayed in the teachings we have  examined is a procreator and parent, a divine person, a co-creator, a co-framer  of the plan of salvation, and is involved in this life and the next.”  

The article concludes with this powerful quote by Elder Glenn L. Pace from the  First Quorum of the Seventy given in 2010, “Sisters, I testify that when you stand  in front of your heavenly parents in those royal courts on high and you look into  Her eyes and behold Her countenance, any question you ever had about the role  of women in the kingdom will evaporate into the rich celestial air, because at that  moment you will see standing directly in front of you, your divine nature and  destiny.”  

When Christ was on the earth, he talked a lot about his father, and when Philip  asked to be shown the Father, Jesus replied that the Father was made manifest  through the Son. In John 14:9 he says, “Have I been so long time with you, and  yet hast thou not known me…? he that hath seen me hath seen the Father; and  how sayest thou then, Shew us the Father?”  

In her article “Women in the Image of the Son: Being Female and Being Like  Christ,” Kathryn H. Shirt writes that just as the best way to get to know our  Heavenly Father is through the son, it may also be the best way to get to know  our Heavenly Mother. She says, “When we ask about the Mother, might not the  Lord give us a similar reply? ‘He that hath seen me hath seen the Mother.’ We  think of the Godhead as united in purpose and similar in character. If we. . . are  going to assert the existence of a female Deity, shouldn’t we assume that her  Son mirrors her perfection as well as that of the Father?”  

Christ is the perfect embodiment of our Heavenly Parents. When we get to know  him, we will get to know them both, Father and Mother.  

In my personal study of Heavenly Mother over the last year or so, this has  definitely been the case for me. Teachings about Her often come to me as poetry,  so I hope you’ll indulge me as I share 2 of my poems here now.  

Like Mother, Like Son  

Who taught the Son of giving life  

Of waters pure, of blood and strife  

Of sacrificing body 

To bring from darkness into light?  


Surely He has Bourne our grief  

Who better than my Mother knows  

How He must be feeling; felt  

For did She not herself bear all?  

At the urging of our prophet, President Russell M. Nelson, in his October 2019  General Conference talk, “Spiritual Treasures”, I have made a greater effort to  learn what my rights and privileges are in the priesthood as a woman. The more I  study, the more drawn I feel to my Heavenly Mother. If this doctrine feels  uncomfortable to you, I invite you to do as Christ invites us to do with all doctrine,  and try it. Think about Her. Ask the Father about Her. Talk about Her with others.  

If you, like me, find yourself hungering, I hope you will find manna in the doctrine  of our Heavenly Mother. As you let it distill upon your soul, I hope you will find  comfort and healing. 

The more I learn, the more central She becomes. Just as the Father sent His  Son, so too did the Mother. She bore Him. If Christ is the fruit of the Tree of Life,  then she is the Tree. If The Father and the Son are one in purpose, then so is  She. And if She matters in the great Plan of Salvation, then so do I.  

In the name of Jesus Christ, Amen.  

by Jessica Burdette

Instagram: @her.scriptures