“In the face of adversity and crisis, Christians have frequently and perhaps understandably questioned the presence of God”
– This is how Andrew T. Essner begins his exploration of how post-black death, people in the medieval times began to look on God as a mother figure. In his article, “God as Mother in Post-Black Death Mystical Texts”, he espouses that the reaction to the black death in “fourteenth century England” was to look towards female images for a representation of God. A passage from Ancrene Wisse is quoted as evidence, which describes God as a “playful mother” who plays hide and go seek with her children and who is a “compassionate mother who puts herself between her child and the angry, stern father”.
Another source quoted is from “female recluse” Julian Norwich, author of “Revelations of Divine Love” who proposes that in the trinity, Jesus Christ is a our “true mother”, and because Jesus himself became flesh, he offered “restoration and salvation and becomes a mother in grace”.
Attributing these then considered exclusive feminine like qualities to a presumably male divine figure, got me wondering whether post-black plague a new respect was born for the more (then considered) “feminine” qualities. If, when it became clear, all were susceptible – the strong, the healthy, the sick, the weak – was perhaps grace and compassion more revered in light of death. If when, everyone around you was breaking down and dying, did attributes such as bravery seem almost silly in comparison to grace and humility?