Friday, May 7, 2010

"El Shaddai...we will praise and lift you high...."

"...Through your love
and through your plan,
You saved the son of Abraham;
Through the power of your hand,
You turned the sea into dry land.
To the outcast on her knees,
You were the God who really sees,
And by Your might,
You set Your children free.

El Shaddai, El Shaddai,
El-Elyon na Adonia,
Age to age You're still the same,
by the power of the name.

El Shaddai, El Shaddai,
Erkamka na Adonai,
We will praise and lift You high,
El Shaddai."

Sometimes the answers to our most persistent questions come in such serendipitous ways. 

Two, seemingly random, questions were on my heart. What to write about in honor of Mother’s Day (without gushing over my own mother, children, or grandchild),
andAbraham’s journey up Mount Moriah.

As to the latter, I’ve been walking around with Abraham in my heart, for the last few days. Asked by God to trust His steady, loving hand in all things, Abraham was urged to take his own young son, Isaac on, what must have been, the most heartwrenching “Sophie’s Choice” hike of Abraham’s life.

He was being called upon, by “the God of his fathers,” to lay his son on the altar, and offer his sweet innocent life, as a sin offering. I can’t even imagine the mental space this man must have been in as he took each step in their ascent.

And then the question pokes through with perplexity and horror, “where was this boy’s mother?”

But back to my story...

Okay, so I'm hiking Moriah with Abraham and Isaac, worried about this little boy (since I am not allowing myself the luxury of knowing the end of the story...I really want to
be with them in that space for a while) and I am listening to the son asking his father benign questions, and Abraham's distracted responses.  It is hot, dusty, and the air is heavy with the father's pain.  I am an observer, a listener.  But that was when the sweet strains of  "El Shaddai" start sweeping through me like a cool clear breeze.  I can hear the music, but I want the words, so I can sing along in Hebrew. 

So I go to my computer, and since my last Youtube search was for a song by contemporary Christian artist, Michael Card, the first "
El Shaddai" video that comes up is not my "go to" Amy Grant version, but a Michael Card performance. 

Stay with me here...this is where it gets all goose-fleshy for me.  So, I thinks to myself, "hmmm...I like Michael Card - a lot - and I wonder what his version sounds like?"

Now this thinking is
not very Kate-like.   Kate seems to like-what-she-likes, and doesn't go off-roading in her preferences much.  If she finds something she likes at a restaurant, she never orders anything different...ever again, at that restaurant.  When she finds a piece of clothing she likes, she buys three of it, and wears it every day.  

And when I find a version of a song I like best, I pretty much never listen to any other performance of it...unless I am tricked, or gently led (like finding Sarah McLaughlin’s version of “Blackbird” on the “I am Sam” CD) into it.   Not this time though.

This was a case of, "hmmm...I wonder what Michael Card will do with this song?"  Very open-minded for me.

Now, I have to say here, that "
El Shaddai" is one of my favorite spiritual songs.  I happen to love hearing Hebrew sung.  But whenever I have heard "El Shaddai," I always think of a Judeaic God who is very Fatherly.  Well, with regard to this moment, that made sense...right...I am thinking about Abraham and his relationship to his son, Isaac.

But as you will see in the video clip, I was in for the loveliest surprise.  Out of the blue, comes the hauntingly lush voice of my loved Sara Groves, and suddenly, I can actually
hear the voice of the absent mother, Sarah, singing to her husband and son.  And, no surprise to anyone who knows my relationship to scripture-based songs, I am weeping. 

In this moment of grace, "
El Shaddai" becomes the lullaby of a mother.  This, once for me, very masculine song (even when sung by Amy Grant) is as gentle and tender as a heartbeat, a mother braiding her daughter's hair, bathing her child's fevered brow, soothing a lost lamb.

So, I am thinking, "Have I ever even looked up the meaning of the Hebrew words, "
El Shaddai?"  Hmmm, not sure.  But I can always look them up I do. 

And again, the weeping. 

My research follows:

"El-Shaddai means God Almighty. El points to the power of God.  Shaddai seems to be derived from another word meaning
breast, which implies that Shaddai signifies one who nourishes, supplies, and satisfies. It is God as El who helps, but it is God as Shaddai who abundantly blesses with all manner of blessings.

Scholar Harriet Lutzky links 'Shaddai' with the Hebrew '
shad' meaning "breast" giving the meaning "the one of the Breast," just as 'Asherah at Ugarit' is 'the one of the Womb.'

In Genesis (49:25) the Hebrew reads 'El Shaddai will bless you with the blessings of heaven above, blessings of the deep that lies beneath, blessings of the breasts [shadayim] and of the womb [racham].'"

Oh my goodness, the boy's divine Mother was with them all the way up that mountain, at the altar, finding the ram, and singing to them as they "skipped as little lambs"...father and son...down Mount Moriah, with gratitude and joy.  I can just imagine Sarah, the manifestation of that Mother-love, waiting for them at the trailhead, confidently trusting the Source of her mother-love to bring them home...whole, holy, and blessed. 

Happy Mother's Day to each of us...let us honor the Mother who continually seeks us out on our journeys, walks our path with us, waits to greet us, and sings to us of Her love and strength, day-by-day. And may we each, as Mary Baker Eddy encourages us in her reference to Love's healing presence in our lives, feel ourselves innocently, trustingly, devotedly, hungrily as:

“the babe that twines its loving arms about the
neck of omnipotence, and calls forth infinite care from [Her] loving heart.”

always with Love,

Kate Robertson, CS


  1. Anonymous1:57 PM

    wow. father mother god indeed. thank you kate.

  2. Happy Mother's Day Kate....With love Sue