World Mother (1 & 2)

© Durga Yael Bernhard

World Mother was one of my best commissions.  The late 90s was a good time in the publishing industry, and the publishing arm of the United Church of Christ’s national headquarters in Cleveland, OH, was hiring several illustrators for a year-long series of images for their weekly publications.  I was chosen for my multicultural style of illustration.  My wonderful client – UCC’s graphic team – set my imagination free with this assignment: to represent God’s grace, and the healing power of faith – as a universal mother.  The people – common workers, citizens of all nations, families of all colors, find renewal in her tender embrace.

This was right up my alley.  God-as-parent is known in both Judaism and Christianity, and it’s a concept I can relate to.  God-as-mother was even better.  I was a young mother myself at the time with two children, and pregnant with my third.  And there I was, painting an earth mother who embraces humanity and gives birth to never-ending spiritual wisdom. What could be better?  This was also one of my highest-paying assignments, so I was feeling embraced by life myself, blessed as I was to work on such an image.  It came to me as easily as play, I thought to myself as my own children played while I worked.  Version 1 of World Mother slipped out with a short labor.

UCC liked this illustration so much, a few years later they approached me to create a new version – this one for their “General Synod” national conference, where the image would be reproduced on 18-foot banners, featured in a promotional campaign, and used on all printed matter for the event.  In keeping with the theme of the conference – “God is still speaking,” I was to transform the image into the shape of a comma – symbolic of how our connection to God may pause in one’s life, like a comma, but never becomes a period, never comes to an end.  As long as one listens, God speaks.  I liked that.  It reminds me of how Abraham had only to lift his eyes to see the angel of God reaching out to solve his most piercing dilemma.  If one listens, one hears; if one looks up, one sees.

Thus version 2 was born happily, another easy labor.

Now and again, a church somewhere reaches out to me to license one of these images.  It warms my heart each time.  The world can never get enough mothering!

Both versions of World Mother are available as a greeting card or poster from my webstore. Fill in the title under “Image of your choice” near the top of the page.

A good week to all!

D Yael Bernhard
Author / Illustrator of:
LOVE IS – a unique crossover book for all ages
THE LIFE OF AN OLIVEExplore the life of a 2000-year-old olive tree
JUST LIKE ME, CLIMBING A TREE: Exploring Trees Around the World
NEVER SAY A MEAN WORD AGAIN – A Publisher’s Weekly Starred Review;
winner of the Sydney Taylor Award and National Jewish Book Council Award
THE DREIDEL THAT WOULDN’T SPIN –  A Benjamin Franklin Design Award Finalist;
a 2015 Finalist in USA Best Book Award’s “Children’s Religious” category
WHILE YOU ARE SLEEPING – A Children’s Book Council Notable Book
A RIDE ON MOTHER’S BACK – An American Bookseller Assoc. Pick of the List
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