144–145: The Kingdom of God is Within You—Believing It, Trusting It, Accessing It

December 17, 2012
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As we mature spiritually and are ready for deeper and more expansive experience, so much that religion focuses on—propositional statements of belief and messaging that leads us to believe “If we do this practice or that amount of good, we will be ‘saved’”—can begin to hinder our connection. Using the phrase attributed to Jesus that “the kingdom of God is within [us]” (Luke 17:21) as an entry point into a discussion of deeper forms of spirituality taught in and urged by the scriptures, as well as the inner call of our own spirits, this two-part episode focuses on the vitality of direct experience with the Spirit—our true, divine selves in the presence of God. What ideas and mis-identifications keep us from these experiences? What are the effects that follow in our lives from having them? How do we put ourselves in a position (techniques and attitudes) to have them?

If you’re feeling “stuck” or unsatisfied, that something in your spiritual life is “missing,” please join Mormon Matters host Dan Wotherspoon and panelists Phil McLemore and Nathan Kline on an exploration of ideas about our natures and the spiritual heart of religion and the kinds of practices that nudge us toward something more fulfilling, concepts and disciplines that help move us from an identification with and desire to perfect the “natural man” to a realization of our true spiritual essence, from a life dominated by fear and a craving to be “in control” to one of centered in love and leading to a desire for oneness.

Part 1 focuses on theory; Part 2 on practice (especially “centering prayer” and meditative disciplines).

Please listen and give us your thoughts below!

__________

WITHIN
By Carol Lynn Pearson

I read a map once
Saying the kingdom of God
Was within me.
But I never trusted
Such unlikely ground.

I went out.
I scoured schools
And libraries
And chapels and temples
And other people’s eyes
And the skies and the rocks.
And I found treasures
From the kingdom’s treasury
But not the kingdom.

Finally I came in quiet
For a rest
And turned on the light.

And there
Just like a surprise party
Was all the smiling royalty–
King, Queen, court.

People have been
Locked up for less, I know.
But I tell you
Something marvelous
Is bordered by this skin:

I am a castle
And the kingdom of God
Is within.

__________

Links:

On Centering Prayer

Bourgeault, Cynthia.  Centering Prayer and Inner Awakening.  Plymouth, UK.: Cowley, 2004. (Amazon link)

Study Guide for Centering Prayer and Inner Awakening (free download)

Keating, Thomas.  Intimacy with God: An Introduction to Centering PrayerNew York: Crossroad, 1994 (2009). (Amazon link)

Keating, Thomas.  Open Mind Open Heart: The Contemplative Dimension of the GospelNew York: Continuum, 1986 (2011). (Amazon link)

Willard, Dallas.  The Spirit of the Disciplines: Understanding How God Changes LivesNew York: HarperOne, 1990. (Amazon link)


Phil McLemore articles and interview

“Hindering the Saints: Taking Away the Key of Knowledge,” Sunstone, September 2012. (Link to purchase magazine issue)

“The Yoga of Christ,” Sunstone, June 2007. (Free download)

“Mormon Mantras: A Journey of Spiritual Transformation,” Sunstone, April 2006. (Free download)

A Mormon’s Spiritual Transformation through Meditation and the Hindu Yogic Tradition, Mormon Stories Podcast, Episodes 246-249, March 2011, interview with Phil McLemore conducted by Andrew Ainsworth (Free download)

__________

 

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38 Responses to 144–145: The Kingdom of God is Within You—Believing It, Trusting It, Accessing It

  1. Marjean Carey
    December 18, 2012 at 12:21 pm

    I really connected with Phil, I believe it was he, who rehearsed the Temple Ceremony and found himself in the Kingdom of God. I have struggled with the commitment in the Temple that exhorts us to give everything to the building up the Kingdom of God. As I have travelled on my spiritual path, the interpretation that the Church is the Kingdom of God (Telestial?) morphed into my own interpretation that the planet, humanity, life is the Kingdom of God. (Terrestial?) The concept that the Kingdom of God is within us transforms my Temple commitment to a new Celestial level. Thank You.

  2. December 18, 2012 at 2:51 pm

    Thank you for this wonderful discussion! I’ve been preparing to go on a mission and understanding of the Kingdom of God was the same as most people in which the Church is the Kingdom. I’m now seeing how that isn’t necessarily the case and that the Kingdom truly is within us. I feel like these next 2 years of inviting people into the Kingdom won’t be so baptism focused as I had planned and instead I can focus on getting people on their own path towards God.

  3. December 19, 2012 at 10:03 am

    Listened to and moved by both podcasts yesterday. I feels like I have been on the same page as Phil and Nathan … however I seem to remain on an early page and these two have entered the substance of experience.

  4. sean
    December 20, 2012 at 10:55 am

    Good discussion. Mainstream LDS teachings sorely lack a contemplative practice element. Though I prefer different practices, I commend the endeavor to make centering prayer available to mainstream LDS. It is a practice that delivers what it promises.

  5. Joseph_P
    December 22, 2012 at 12:11 pm

    Fascinating stuff. I tried to purchase the premium Sunstone issue with Phil’s article in it, but don’t see a purchase link or anything. In fact, Sunstone.com is not behaving very well for me. For example, this link: https://www.sunstonemagazine.com/hindering-the-saints-taking-away-the-key-of-knowledge/ leads to the home page. Any hints, Dan?

    • Steve
      December 24, 2012 at 9:24 am

      You can buy the audio of his talk from this page: https://www.sunstonemagazine.com/blog/?page=ss_audio-foryear-2010

    • Dan Wotherspoon
      December 24, 2012 at 12:15 pm

      I’ve written to Sunstone to get advice on website purchase, just haven’t heard back yet. I know that the final product in the magazine was different from what Phil gave at the symposium, so don’t know how close buying the audio would be compared to the printed. I’ll alert as soon as I hear back from Sunstone on availability.

    • Philip McLemore
      December 26, 2012 at 8:39 pm

      Email me at abbaom@yahoo.com
      Phil M

  6. Josh Mangelson
    December 27, 2012 at 12:58 am

    This was great. I’ve listened to out in its entirety twice, but the fir st episode from about 20-31 minutes where Phil talks at length about the natural man I’ve listened to about four times. I’ve never considered it that way. Pursuing the inner path brought to mind the scripture where Jesus says that we are to clean the inner vessel first and then the outer. Focusing on the exterior for me has never changed bad habits on the long run for me personally. Also in a very literal sense something can’t lose its worth if it’s to be redeemable. Thinking about a coupon for a free coke, if it’s to be redeemable at the store then it needs to be worth every penny of that coke. You simply can’t lose your divinity if you’re to be redeemable by Christ. It’s just the natural man you are cementing yourself to through sin.

    • Phil McLemore
      January 4, 2013 at 2:57 pm

      Yes, sin is sin not because it drives us deeper into the natural man. As the natural man is cast off sin has less and less appeal and influence. Real inner transformation comes from pursuing the inner path.

  7. Annie
    December 27, 2012 at 4:03 pm

    Powerful. Need to relisten. It feels like this is an important concept I’ve been completely missing out on.

  8. Josh Mangelson
    December 27, 2012 at 5:58 pm

    I wouldn’t go so far as to say that this temporal/mortal life isn’t reality, though. I do believe it is reality, but it’s a limited, three-dimensional reality that we are bound to. When Nitro Circus (motocross movie like unto Jackass) came to theaters one movie critic said that those “one-dimensional characters” aren’t people he would choose to spend time with. I like that saying because it’s also applicable to all mortal experience really in our three dimensions. As a natural man/woman one is very narrow in thinking; i.e., cultural relativism, etc.

    • Phil McLemore
      January 4, 2013 at 2:53 pm

      It is common in Yoga circles for the world to be described as “illusion” or “not real”. What is meant is not that is doesn’t exist but that is does not reflect “reality” or exist as we experience it with our limited perceptions.

  9. Leslie Nelson
    December 30, 2012 at 7:32 am

    Wow, thanks to all of you, Dan, Phil and Nathan–
    I will spare you the gory details–but this is just want I needed right now for my spirituality and for therapuetic (overcoming trauma) reasons. Part of the discussion helped me understand more clearly than I had before how trying to repress the painful memories is causing the separation from God that I feel. I knew that, but I understand it better now, and more importantly, I know what I need to do about both.
    Thanks again.

  10. Carmina
    January 2, 2013 at 5:32 pm

    Thank you for a wonderful podcast. I am often troubled by all the “doing” in our church and I really don’t feel like it is taking me anywhere. A few years ago my mindset was “if I do more, have more callings, give talks, make myself known in our ward, then my Heavenly Father would be pleased with me. The only result was emptiness. I reflected a lot in my Catholic upbringing how easily it was to just stop by at any church in downtown Cordoba Argentina (dressed however I wanted), sit down, reflect, pray, meditate and be surrounded by silence and peace for a time. I miss that.

    • Phil McLemore
      January 4, 2013 at 2:49 pm

      I love the “drop in” at Catholic cathedrals. Of course Mary and Martha represent the doing and being orientations and the “doing” needs to be done but as Jesus said to the doer, ONE THING is needful (the inner path of communion and purification) and Mary has chosen it.

    • January 6, 2013 at 10:23 pm

      Especially when I travel, I drop in to visit houses of worship on a regular basis. More often than not, I’ll light a candle when they’re available. That the space is set aside for such things makes it all the more genuine.

  11. January 3, 2013 at 6:50 pm

    Thank you for this! Very timely for my spiritual journey right now.

  12. mike
    January 4, 2013 at 3:19 am

    Thank you so much for creating this podcast. I’ve been a member of LDS all my life over in Sweden. Me and my brother have been listening to this podcast and discussing it a lot. It is an amazing approach to finding your way to God. I would say that this podcast does a great job in summing up the first and most important commandment “to love god as oneself” then after that one is ready to “love your neighbour”.

    I’ve strongly experienced spiritual relief during long and intent prayers a couple of times, i understand it to be the goal of Yoga and the true meaning of coming to christ and the real message in our church etc.

    I would like to add a thought that has been bothering me for a while. And hopefully i can make my point come across in English and fast.

    Because when I understood that the meaning of life was to come to christ, the meaning of worldly things became unimportant, even the sacrament and the baptism became unimportant, its not the batism or the sacrament or the word of wisdom or the sabbath day etc that saves but it is your own mind getting to know christ that saves, that is life eternal to know him, and condemnation is to know him but not remain there. All commandments are tools to make his children find that path but when the tools get used as goals they become corrupt. Any how when i was disconnected from the world through prayer/yoga/meditation what should i do with the church or life or this earth if it is unimportant?

    The thing that is coming back to me is that spirituality needs to have a opposition in order to exist, it needs to be realised in the flesh in order to be complete. Spirituality has an opposition in the flesh, and its not an opposition of heaven and hell, life or sin, but an opposition of spirit wich is flesh. So when we met christ in spirit we can bring that completeness to the flesh and when fullness of truth is exercised in the world a complete joy is experienced.

    So the world don’t become unimportant. The world just comes to an end as we knew it, to be resurrected again in a new form, its like spiritually baptising all that you know, you lay it down to die by detaching from it and then take i up again in a more beautiful manner this happens if you trust the lord and sacrifice all.

    I sometimes think of this principal as an instrument since Im an old funky drummer. The more i played my drums the more spiritual it became, every time i practised new insights came to me and after a while drumming was not about the drumkit, it was about expressing my inner-self and my soul/spirit/knowledge was transmitted through the instrument. Drumming was about talking and conversing with your fellow musicians through your instrument and respectfully play the song that were performed. When these spiritual sides of the music was understood the physical side of the drumming could still not be neglected. I still had to use the different drums to express myself my knowledge was bound to the instrument/tool. But together with the spiritual side the music became complete. So without the physical part the music would disappear and the knowledge about the true meaning of the music would not be revealed.

    This is the same with all physical things when the true meaning of christ becomes revealed to oneself the world might for a while seem corrupt and awful but when approached again with a new mind it becomes beautiful. The physical world is where the spiritual world gets complete, so therefor I no longer neglect physical things but I try to see christ in all things i do and when i find my kingdom within again and again my kingdom without gets used in a more complete fashion and hopefully one day these two elements will be reunited and i will become complete.

    Hopefully this thought will be for anyones interest.

    • Phil McLemore
      January 4, 2013 at 2:45 pm

      Very profound insights. Yes “tools being used as goals” is a huge problem and distraction. When early seers discovered the inner Kingdom they concluded that THIS was ultimate salvation and so generally separated themselves from the world. However, the incarnation and resurrection of Christ is meant to teach us that the “oppositional” material world is to be redeemed so that spirit can receive a fulness of joy. The D & C phrase that “spirit and element, inseparably connected, receive a fulness of joy” communicates that nicely.

      • mike
        March 27, 2013 at 2:42 pm

        Thanks for these responses. Im truly greatful for this insight on finding god and for the responses. Ive been pondering what god is even more and come to realize that god is ETERNAL and being and engineer, i’ve been studying a lot of maths. I remember a quote from a maths class where my professor wrote something in the line of “when you find the value of zero, you find god”. the value of zero is a deeply philosofical problem in maths. It is eternaly and infinitly small. And this number can therefore never be pronounced or defined. this means that god is the answer to this question actually. The answer to eternal things can only be experienced when one expericens the present wich is a way to escape of overcome time. and this comes close to what Yoga is all about. this means that the eternal question that contain all the questions is the question that cannot be pronounced. the zero question, if you like. Therefore when you ask god nothing at all, you ask everything at once and this i knowledge that are outside this world.

        I hope i make sense. There is a longer explanation to this. But the only way to be everything and knowing all things, being eternal and know all things one has to have the answer to what nothing is, because a complete nothing is just as eternal as everything. And perhaps it is easier to restore onself in a nothing than try to know all. and when one restore oneself to his true self the gospel is restored within.

        I also think about when i first saw my son when he was born. i thought to myself that he already knows what god is, his eyes were so beautiful and shining with light. And that would mean that I used to know what god is, 30 years ago when i was born. The question is what have happend along the way. I have started to believe in lies. And this had made me forget the true meaning of life. But when i focus on this nothingness i described, i restore myself and the light within me grows.

        And let me tell you. It grows fast and all symbolism is easy to translate when one is close to god. Since ive deeply and actively started working in this path ive preformed better at work, i see things clear, i can solve difficult tasks, and everyting around me is more beautiful full of life and meaning and purpose.

        Ive never belived in god this much before. When a person find god, the answer to everything, all things are posible. I cannot any more belive in things of things world. And it is easy to see where god is. This path that we are all discussing is discussed on almost every page in the book of mormon, and a lot in the temple. but also everywhere around us. In maths, in sports, in yoga, in politics and in all other ideas that are spoken. And the answer to all questions is in heaven, and heaven is within. It is like the world asks all the questions and heaven answers. or the peace confirms what is right. every aha-experience is a part of heaven.

        In god i trust. It wasn’t my purpose to be so long. :D

        Mike from sweden.

    • January 6, 2013 at 10:11 pm

      Catholic and Protestant thinkers use the term “incarnational” to describe this phenomenon. Incarnational life, or “kingdom living” is how one caries out day-to-day life after receiving new life in Christ. Your personal example as a drummer is brilliant. Knowing you cannot disregard the mechanics and discipline of what it means to be a drummer, is akin to remaining active in the Church after seeing things from a higher vantage point. Niebuhr’s Christ and Culture is a modern classic that addresses an element of your struggle; here’s a link: http://www.amazon.com/Christ-Culture-Torchbooks-Richard-Niebuhr/dp/0061300039/ref=pd_bxgy_b_text_y

      • mike
        March 28, 2013 at 1:52 am

        thanks for the respons. Let me give you a thought that i have about remaining active in the church after seeing things from a higher point. When we are baptised in water we are taught that “we take upon ourselvs the name of christ”. If my name is Jesus Christ, whos church do I belong to? In my case it is my own church. And ultematly we stand on our own and with all our heart mind and stregnth we remain active in our own temple, wich is our own body. and here we see that we have to be our own answer to all questions, and the way to become that is to follow jesus christ towards god. So the instrument that cannot be taken away from us, like the drums i mentioned abouve, wich in the end and the beginning contains all knowledge is our body, and not the church, but at the same time the church as we know it today is the same thing as our body…

        And that is how you create gods kingdom on earth, by teaching others who god is. and then gather together in one fold. So, one has to remain active in the church, but the church is what you want it to be.

        Does it make sense….

        and thanks for the link. let me know if you have questions on this.

  13. KMarkP
    January 4, 2013 at 9:36 am

    After listening to this great podcast I bought and read Bourgeault’s book. I admit I feel “called” to begin some kind of meditative practice, but I’m having trouble seeing what the practice of “Centering Prayer” has to do with Christianity, and especially, with Mormonism. It still looks to me like a practice borrowed from India onto which some Christian ideas have been superimposed after the fact. Wouldn’t this method work equally well for an atheist? What is it about this method that would bring me closer to Christ when my neighbor might use the identical practice to realize his Buddha nature? Is it just a matter of intention, having the right mindset, or is there something about the practice itself that leads to Christ somehow rather than simply to a more happier life?

    • KMarkP
      January 4, 2013 at 9:52 am

      Pardon me for answering myself, but I just had another thought. Perhaps it IS all about intention. I worry whether the only difference between Buddhist meditation and Christian meditation are the words one uses. But isn’t it the same with any type of prayer? I can pray the very same prayer to the Christian God or to Allah. Whom I am addressing makes all the difference. Is it the same way with meditation practices?

      • Phil McLemore
        January 4, 2013 at 2:31 pm

        Bourgeault explained clearly in the book that there has always been an independent tradition of Christian meditation and that it is not a modern Christianization of Eastern practices. Having said that I came most deeply to Christ through Yoga Meditation. My article The Yoga of Christ might help answer your very thoughtful questions.

        • KMarkP
          January 4, 2013 at 7:28 pm

          Thanks, Phil.
          When I intimated that Christians borrowed the practice from the Hindus and merely changed the terminology, I didn’t mean that Keating, Bourgeault, etc. did that. I meant that the ancient Desert Fathers may have, or whoever.
          At any rate, I will be carefully reading your article. Thanks again for the help and for your inspiration.

      • January 6, 2013 at 9:58 pm

        You make two points above I wish to press you on (if I’m following you correctly): 1.) A religious practice with similarities that indicates influence (borrowing, etc.) from another tradition is problematic. 2.) (your following comment) If a practice works for Buddhists, Christians, or even atheists, then it can have practical but not religious/spiritual benefits (you seem to infer this, so please correct or clarify). The bottom line is that although LDS doctrine and scriptures support the practice of centering prayer, the practice has never been mentioned. Leaving room for “holy envy” allowed me, Phil, and others to discover goodness in other religious traditions, in this case with centering prayer. We had to be open to it, and it came after years of struggle and suffering. I continue to experience the Comforter calling me outside my “comfort zone”. You mention a sense of calling as well, but it also seems as though you’re still wrestling with it some. If so, I think it is healthy, and I commend you for not waiting until you have it all worked out before you step forward.

  14. MefromCali
    January 5, 2013 at 2:32 am

    One of the last (or perhaps it was ‘the last’) times I was in the temple, I was sitting in the celestial room in contemplative prayer whereupon I was approached by a temple matron who bent over and whispered into my ear, “Brother, we have been instructed that patrons are not to linger for any undue length of time in the celestial room. You need to move on now.” I was there for what?…..ten or so minutes…..really, that’s about all, and that was considered “undue” and I was “lingering”. I think that was the last time I ever had any desires to go back to the temple. From that point on there was a marketed decline with any LDS involvement — it just wasn’t a supportive locus or in any way conducive to enhance or have any experiences with regard to my longing for communing with the ‘spirit’ or ‘spiritual’ (for the lack of a better term). Needless to say, after that experience I soon ceased to support the church financially (after multiple decades of ‘faithful’ and ‘full’ support), because for one thing, I never went anymore. However, I have had the thought that I could be ‘some kind of LDS member’ if the temple was more accessible, and without all of the inane (to me and my wife, anyway) Masonic, esoteric ‘whoobee doobees’ (I’m trying to be respectful, but that’s what my wife and I refer to them as being amongst ourselves). I have often thought, “Wouldn’t it be great if I could go to a place like the LDS temple, go to a lockerroom within, replace my street shoes with ‘temple slippers’, slip a large, loose, white (or some pastel color) robe over my street clothes, and sit in a lovely room with other like-minded persons to view a short twenty minute or so ***uplifting***, ‘spiritually’ themed video presentation (that would change say, every month) and then be allowed to sit and meditate/pray in community. If that ever were to happen, then I could see myself paying to support that. In essence, it would be something of value — something worth paying for without having to ascribe to the notion of ‘doing work for the dead’ in ad nauseam, futile, mind-numbing ‘sessions’ for ‘Mr Jones, who is dead’ born in 1638 in Hoshposh Pensyltucky, which frankly I think is ridiculous and untenable (at least at this juncture of our lives in the world as it is at present, or at the very least for personally ‘unknown or unaffiliated to us’ persons).

    Just my thoughts.

    • Phil McLemore
      January 5, 2013 at 6:59 pm

      Amen. The Temple could be and should be the perfect place to support contemplative prayer. To be chased out of the Celestial Room because you are “praying” too long (as I have been) is super silly. LDS leadership is unfortunately afraid of inner practices.

      • MefromCali
        January 7, 2013 at 3:25 am

        Thank you for the vote of confidence! Now I don’t feel so much like a ‘nut case’ — you know — the gospel net catches all kinds of fish.

        • Minjae_Lee
          January 14, 2013 at 6:31 am

          The Buddhists are good at temples for meditating – maybe you can go give them a try.

    • mike
      March 28, 2013 at 12:09 am

      I hear what you say. let me give my opinion on this matter. I often think that the real temple is our bodies, or a mindset. It is said in scripture. And the physical tempel as we know it in the LDS movement is a representation for learing how to pray. and especially the endowment session. The temple is a GREAT way to learn about god, but it is not the only way. The real and only way to find god is within. If one read the scriptures with this mindset we clearly see that everyone that we call a prophet claims to have spent time in sincere prayer were upon they find out what an eternity is. In that moment, like the first vision by joseph smith for instance. One visit the TRUE temple. And this is the real teaching according to my understanding.

      Let me put this clear. Im a devote LDS from Sweden, and i truly believe that the truth is taught within the church. But ultimately one needs to “overcome” or “detach” from even those theachings said in the temple and find real peace within. Moses, Abraham and Isaiah did not go to any tempel as it is organized today, and still it teaches the same thing.

      And if one listen carefully all the prophets, not only christian prophets, but lets say, all wise men and women ever in this world have always tried to teach people how to love and find peace within, and in the heart one can find god. and WHEN someone knows him he can know the truth of all things as they are. This prinicple is found in jazzmusic, sports managemnt, in bussines management, in maths and in dance.

      It all starts with a prayer. And look beyond the symbolism. and put your trust in God, not in the temple… eventhough the temple is a good thing to put trust in.

      I hope i makes sense. Truth is everywhere and a great deal of it is organised in the church.. and all of the truth is found within.

  15. CliffB
    January 9, 2013 at 12:44 pm

    What a wonderful podcast! Since my first ‘mystical’ experience at age eight, I have searched for further understanding of these experiences, which I have had all my life. My authority figures within family and the Church have either discouraged my questions and seeking, or have been unable to answer them.

    This has led to my seeking for answers far and wide, and it was mostly Kabbalah that helped me find comfort and peace in my experiences. …and people like St. John of the Cross, St. Theresa of Avila and countless others have helped as well.

    Thank you for shortening the journey for those who seek to understand their spiritual unfolding.

  16. Allison
    January 15, 2013 at 8:54 pm

    I would love to be able to rely on the temple for spiritual meditation. Unfortunately, for those sensitive to the belief that, in God’s eyes, men are ranked above women, the temple is a difficult place to be. Don’t know if this counts, but I find running a great form of meditation. Great podcast. Excellent message.

    • mike
      March 28, 2013 at 12:28 am

      on this women matter it think of it this way. Women are the mother of all living things. (does the phrase sound familiar?) That is the truth to me. This is what nature is trying to teach us. the root of all the people in the world. without a mother there are no living things. Just think about that and what it means. where does this lead us? what does that try to teach us? what is the symbolism of women bearing life, creating new life? It means that we all comes from motherhood. and without it… well god would not be. In gods eyes, women are not ranked below men. Thats at least my personal doctrine and to me and that is the one that makes sense.

      And running is probably my best meditation aswell. And sometimes when im on the train going to work, great things becomes clear to me.

      • Allison
        April 1, 2013 at 3:48 pm

        Interesting theory, Mike. I can tell you’ve put a lot of thought into it and I respect your ideas. It’s very easy and natural to attribute human characteristics to things like God and Creation in order for them to make sense. Consider the female perspective, though. As a woman (and a mother), I don’t want to be placed on a pedestal or sentimentalized. It is a dangerous trap designed to put women in their “place.” I don’t want my role as a woman to be defined by a patriarchal ideal. What if I don’t want to be the mother of all things living? Where is my free will? Do I even have a choice? I appreciate your sentiment but if I want to stand on a pedestal and declare myself the bearer of all life, I’ll put myself there.