by Keara Ette
Sunday, May 14, 2017
Oh Mother’s Day…the day when individuals young and old reach out to the people who mothered them throughout their lives, letting them know they are loved and appreciated. So many moms, godmothers, grandmothers, aunts, friends, step-moms, step-in moms, dads who were both mom-and-dad, spiritual mothers (and more!) will receive phone calls, notes, flowers, cards, and lots of prayers and blessings today, and who would argue with that?! It is so good to recognize and then show our gratitude, especially since gratitude is too infrequently the foundation of our daily life.
I have to confess though, as a mother, godmother, and aunt, I feel a little strange on Mother’s Day. The cards are sweet and they make us feel good…right up until the moment when we realize that there is NO WAY we live up to all those flowery images and poetic words.
Don’t get me wrong, I take my roles of mothering quite seriously, and mothering/godmother-ing/aunt-ing are some of the very last callings I want to fail at in life. The call to mothering others (whether it is my kids or those I get to accompany on their spiritual journeys) is one that has been planted deep within me. It is one that excites me and fills me with energy and the desire to keep pouring myself out in new and creative ways.
But, I have also discovered that to enter into the kind of intimacy involved in mothering is a vulnerable act, and it is rare that a day goes by when my frailties in motherhood are not made visible to my own eyes. The days when I realize that I have contributed absolutely nothing to the running of our household (other than the clothes and towels that I added to the laundry pile that my husband vigilantly takes care of); the evenings when I snap at the 3.5 year-old because he is bringing out his best stalling-at-bedtime tricks, and I am just too tired to be impressed or amused by the creativity and skill he demonstrates; the days when I can’t even get it together enough to send the birthday greetings on time or make the phone call to a friend who could use some extra TLC.
In today’s Gospel, Jesus shows patience that I too often lack when trying to teach my own children (especially for the 8th, 12th, or 30th times!), as he once again reassures his followers that He is the way, the way to the God who is our origin, the God whose presence is planted deep within us, and the God that beckons us back into communion with the Divine Love. While the disciples (like so many who mother) are eager to ‘get it right,’ they keep confusing what Jesus is revealing to them with their own, preconceived expectations of God. Knowing he needs to keep working at it, Jesus re-explains that all of what they have been hearing him say and all the ways he has been entering into encounters with and showing compassion and mercy for the strangers, the outcasts, the figures on the margins, it is in all of this that they have been witnessing God’s own self.
In our eagerness to get it right (as disciples and as people who try to pour ourselves out for others), we too need to be reminded over and over again to reimagine and reawaken to what God looks like, where God is showing up, and maybe even at times, how what we do has the potential to bear a little more God into the world.
The real Mother’s Day card that I, and perhaps some others like me, might deserve would read something like:
(front of card:)
“You have done a lot and you try to do a lot more. We can see you love us, but let’s face it … (insert picture of messy-haired lady making mac-and-cheese while a pool of spilled milk begins to drips off the counter) You are a bit of a mess. But you know what else? …
(inside of card:)
God still does some great things through you.
Happy Mother’s Day to all who try to faithfully live out the call to pour life and love into others. You help make present in the world the God who nurtures, nourishes, teaches, plays, forgives, celebrates, sacrifices, anguishes, and rejoices … and the world would not be the same without you.