Sunday, May 11, 2014

A Mother's Heart

While I don't really aim to write a blog each Mother's Day, it is of course a day that sets most of us to thinking.  A number of years ago I read the book It Was On Fire When I Lay Down on It (great title, no?) by Robert Fulghum.  He had been a minister for a number of years and wrote that "the second Sunday of May was trouble."  He went on to say that people always expected him to preach on the subject of mothers, but try as he might he could never get the subject JUST RIGHT.

He said: "Around that second Sunday in May are focused other powerful forces--concentrated in memory and forever stored in hearts and minds and psyches."  He acknowledged that for many people, the memory of mother is a wonderful thing, but for some, it is not.  He noted that he posed some questions on such a Sunday: for example--how many of you don't really like, or even hate, your mother? how many of you find Mother's Day painful? Well, he noted the church sat in stunned silence.

So, there's the rub of it.  Mother's Day isn't always a wellspring of joyful memories.  And for some people it might be actually painful.  I have written before about the pain I and my siblings experienced when our mother died on Mother's Day.  Forever after, for us, the day is both celebration and remembrance. 

What I want to celebrate this Mother's Day is all the people who have a mother's heart.  You need not be a mother to have a mother's heart.  In fact, I am not convinced you even need to be a woman to have a mother's heart--though perhaps if you are a man, I should call it a father's heart.  Or maybe a parent's heart.

That's what I want to celebrate--the need and the will to nurture someone, or some thing.  Recently, I told you the story of Malik.  That was a very brief encounter, and we have not seen him since that day.  But, I believe my first reaction to him was born of a mother's heart.  My husband's reaction--to get him a jacket and to drive him where he needed to go--was born of a father's heart.

As I sat in church today, I listened to a boy in our congregation lead the call to worship.  I only know him passingly, but on Palm Sunday, I had a mother's heart moment with him. 

The children had paraded with palms in an opening processional--he was one of them.  The usual adults that he would sit with were otherwise engaged, and not able to be in church.  His older sister was there, but she was sitting in an already full row with her friends.  After the parade had passed by, he came to the row where his sister was, and she turned him away.  

He then went to the back of the church and stood there looking a bit lost.  I saw him--and motioned him to join my husband and me--we had room in our pew.  He did.  I could tell throughout the service he was not really comfortable, and was also shy.  But I was still glad I had motioned to him to join us.  My mother's heart would not let me do otherwise.  (Besides, I am an older sister, and know that status comes with obligations--his sister will learn that in time.)

Today, as this same boy lead the call to worship, I found my eyes filling with tears--just a bit.  He is not my child.  And I do not really know him.  But I claim some responsibility for seeing him safe in the world.

So, here's my thought for today.  Celebrate a mother's heart.  We can all be mothers--mothering that which needs mothering:  children, to be sure, our own children, other people's children.  We can mother friends, neighbors, strangers, pets...all manner of things need mothering.