What profound and sweet insights into our Heavenly Mother and what prophets have said about her. To discover more truths, check out the Church's essay: "Mother in Heaven."
Once upon a time, I had the rich opportunity to research Heavenly Mother full-time. For BYU. I had just finished my BA in philosophy, when one of my professors invited me to work for him that Spring and Summer before I headed East for grad school. He had received a grant from the Women’s Research Institute. My answer was a resounding, “Yes.” I remain sincerely glad that it was, despite the fact that the thing that I remember most from that period was that I was exhausted–spiritually, mentally, and emotionally. This may be because the thing that I remember second most, is that I was also full–spiritually, mentally, and emotionally. It was beautiful to read and read about our Eternal Mother, as it was beautiful to learn that there were things to read and read. Much of my research contributed to the 2011 BYU Studies article, “‘A Mother There’: A Survey of Historical Teachings about Mother in Heaven.”
Just the other day, I was given another rich opportunity: to talk about the things I learned during that time with my Relief Society sisters. It felt sacred (as did the conversation that followed). The first things I shared were the things I remember feeling very new to me then. The second things I shared were a few of my very favorite themes, threading throughout many of the writings and discourses. I share both with you now.
- Eliza’s poem [and hymn "O My Father"] was not the first recorded expression of LDS belief in an Eternal Mother. W.W. Phelps published a hymn ten months before that he had written for the dedication of a Seventies Hall. It was titled, “A Voice From the Prophet: Come to Me.” The relevant lyric says, “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.”2
- This suggests that the doctrine did not stem with Eliza, but was common knowledge at that time. Eliza explained, “I got my inspiration from the Prophet’s teaching. All that I was required to do was use my Poetical gift and give that Eternal principal in Poetry.”3 There is additional evidence that Joseph Smith taught it. When Zina D. Huntington Young’s mother passed away, she asked Joseph, “Will I know my mother as my mother when I get over on the Other Side?” He responded, “Certainly you will. More than that, you will meet and become acquainted with your eternal Mother, the wife of your Father in Heaven.”4 Abraham H. Cannon recorded in his journal that Joseph Smith invited Sidney Rigdon and Zebedee Coltrin to “accompany him into the woods to pray,” where they experienced a succession of four visions–two of which included Heavenly Mother.5
Lead image from The Exponent.