It was an ordinary day, meeting all kinds of people as I meandered through life’s adventure. To me, it is as if I venture as a virtual participant with a person who is a star in their own mystery book. If I don’t slow down and honour the process, I may miss reading the chapters of their existence. Though it may be for a few moments, I am invited into what I understand to be an incredibly spiritual book. As I reflect on many a wanderer’s journey, there stands out one so brilliant, so lustrously devout, that it requires me to approach the tattered and torn pages of this mystery book with a reverent caution.
On this particular day the wind drew my attention as though it were whispering my name. Nature has always captivated me and today the swaying of the treetops seemed to point to that one waiting below. My day’s treasure would draw my gaze upon its distinct but subdued glowing aura, whose colours had long since faded. So marred was this familiar living book that I nearly missed the cue of the hummingbird leading me to rest with her for a while. But somehow in those moments, as I contemplated the broken memoir in front of me, I realized that compassion was a chapter in her book that was savagely ripped out. Our encounter would soon prove to be as rare as one who is able to follow the trail of a hummingbird. Though there are many books similar to hers, truly this was a divine moment and today her memoir would be chosen to come down off the musty old shelf. It was true the bloodstains were smattered as if etched with a dagger and time had faded its testimony but still the book held its cover. If I considered her outward appearance and posture I most assuredly would have missed the precious jewels engraved within.
Prompted by the spirit of kindness, I gently and unobtrusively sat down just be with her, beside her. Our spirits talk but our lips are not moving. Soon I would discover that my presence was like the uncovering of the riches of a treasure chest thrown into the depths of the sea after pirates had failed in their pillaging. We share the bonds of motherhood.
As I look over my life I have been graced with those highlighted gifts of time when I found a mutual experience with a stranger with needs not unlike my own. In this meeting place of being known, God’s pen of expression became engraved on the canvas of my heart. She also took away a live marker in her history. We simply related and were powerfully validated. To those bustling ‘normal folks’ who judged through society’s lenses watching us share our very different lives, we were the odd couple. Many things are perceived as odd to us who have set standards and expectations but there is one thing in this life that causes all those to fall. The stalwart leveling tool carved into a veteran heart that defies all social status, all intellectual prowess and when one chooses to willingly ‘walk a mile’ with the weighty responsibility of an ever enduring comrade in arms…. a mother with a broken heart.
There are many who have entered into the office of parenthood through choice or perhaps by having it imposed upon them. Both are in desperate need of assurance. Making sense of it all can be overwhelming. We had done our very best but now as the years have overtaken us we know and feel deeply the loss, pain and failure. Life truly can be so harsh for many. Though it may seem that one’s heart can never mend, I have made it an integral part of my personal healing journey to walk through life with an open spirit towards my comrades, to offer human dignity, to listen.
There have been times in far away lands and diverse cultures or in simple daily routine places where I seemed ushered into these moments. So random, yet so orchestrated by a higher power that after even a lightly measured time of connecting heart to heart with a stranger, I felt I was on holy ground.
Surely it is God in His providence who opens the doors into another mother’s spirit, her book in progress. And most unusually this will happen when her pen has run dry. How can this be? A desperate and contrite heart God will not turn away from but in fact He is drawn to us in this place. Perhaps there is a measure of safety in trusting a complete stranger into that spiritual place of need where you can both unite in brokenness and humility. Tis indeed a great privilege to offer one another courage while lifting up the soul of your fallen comrade. Oh the battlefield marathon of a parent! Ongoing generational imposition of ideals and values war against us as if to defy our very individual existence. In this place of love, so deep that you literally lose your own self for your children you battle to offer them a better way.
She and I share compassionately with but a few words pausing to sigh or smile. We dare to travel back through the worn pages to recover something to give us the hope to get up again. Staring together into the new beginnings of the times past we are in awe. Not for a second could we have dreamed that one day we would lose our child (children) amidst the years of loving sacrifice. In fact it is so incomprehensible that now as we clutch one another’s arms, still seated by the cracked dry sidewalk, we are forced to pause and acknowledge our humanity. Daring to chuckle lightly as we realize we went the way of all before us, we too had set off to ‘do better than our parents’ and oh how sure we were of it!
Yet, how could it be that my comrade, not of the same social status, had a heart like mine? How deceptive are our ways as we categorize and segregate to the level that we cannot and will not offer human dignity and respect to all people. After many decades, from my teens to this day, I have been blessed with this humble dew of heaven that has far outweighed the teardrops that have drenched my brokenness. Desperation to share heart to heart and find human validation is where God ordained our paths to cross. And oh how I have apprehended those moments. At times other strangers with sensitivity that burst my hiddenness have encroached into my contemplative sorrow. I am so grateful. So precious that I’ve carried them as capsule of time within my soul like snuggly stuffed animals assuring the ever-childlike portion of my soul. God does know me and He does care for us all.
We spoke of pouring our lives out for those we bore and our dreams of precious families where safety, joy and bonded hearts became the foundation for their lives ahead. What a joy would have filled our lives. It should have. It seemed so simple and completely natural to proceed into adulthood marrying and birthing little dreams out of love. Our new reality in the theatre of our lives is that our dream became our worst nightmare. Did we fail in that we expected too much?
Glancing shyly as though afraid to look in a mirror, we sit side by side, in silence. Stay present I say to myself, and savour this seeming epiphany for you are with—- your kin. I was in the presence of one who also forged her entire life by giving all she knew to give to her family. I could see in her weary face and downcast vision that the years of sorrow had beaten her down to despair and hopelessness. She was sitting beside me in her cheery pink chair fully present physically though I was completely aware that her history had been concealed for decades. With the comfort of the sun shining on her spirit she dared to crawl up out of her dungeon of sorrow. Wrapped in the warmth of the breeze we rediscovered the loving, accepting breath of God. I had nothing to say but simply just listened.
The clock provided our time of ‘shaming the ravages of her loneliness’ and together without a word of agreement we entered into the ticking of the clock once again to reflect and wonder on the other side of the fleeting years. However did we get here? We are cut off and abandoned though our adult children live on.
Strangely I am comforted, through a sigh and a few stories, that it isn’t just me and all my imperfections but there are many others who walk my road. We staggered through the chapters and off into the long distance track of yesteryear, carrying our youthful joys and adult sorrows. In the most peculiar uniting of two eyes that drew us to share in silence, our human value was most assuredly strengthened. But could it be restored she seemed to ask? At an everyday sidewalk cafe on old pink wooden chairs we met to reside as though dining as queens before nature’s courts. Fluffy white clouds dance across the baby blue sky as the late morning songbirds sang their nursery rhythms. Such pure joys we’ve now learned to indulge in!
Our make believe best friends quite a safe distance away arose to salute and affirm the reflecting of our recitals of young motherhood. With the appearance of the gleaming lake’s whitecaps vicariously waving about, I am swept into an instant where my heart leaps as if to embrace my chubby cheeked child once again. A dog barks nearby, awakening us back to the coffee in hand, as a teen whistles for his best friend and the two ride off out of sight. We both smile. Such joys are free if we choose to see and enjoy. The shimmering lake waters, as they rise up and fall, pour out their wisdom. And we understand that just like the progression of our lives, we hope and imagine their joyous affirmations of our service of motherhood.
In the rediscovered joy of childlike imagination the sun seems to be playing hide and seek as through the swaying of the evergreen boughs, their shadows waving and smiling at us. Captivated in the sharing of human dignity and having a heart full of warmth and belongingness, I realize I had cast my inhibitions aside. My middle class shoes had been long since tossed aside. She and I with both feet in the lush green grass offer a toast to middle age. Oh how fine and rich are the shared joys and pleasures of sweet hot coffee and its aroma caressing our souls. My newly discovered friend, the one who is travelling through life’s same route with successes and great loss, has blessed me with her trust.
Into the afternoon, as the warmth of the sun begins to fade, so does the most rare and precious time that providence had graced us with. And so it is that the longings of the office of motherhood would once again lay dutifully hidden in their treasured chambers of the heart. The jewels and riches that nourish her life are unseen to all but cherished deep within…. her memories.
As I gather my shoes, I see this mother as a newly honoured matriarch on her pink floral throne. Looking into her eyes I release my spirit to drape and adorn her with dignity. I don’t need to know her story, her details or how many children she had or has. Was she a street crawler, a soccer mom, a diva business entrepreneur gone down? Is she a recovering alcoholic, a divorcee tossed aside? It matters not. She is a mother forever. She deserves to be given respect and honour for her service and her heart’s devotion.
A mother has a unique office, one that encompasses and demands her entire existence. When her child is endangered she will die to protect their wellbeing. Her heart of love for her own flesh will surpass her desperate need to be socially justified and even to be loved in return. Even so, it crushes her spirit to be so abandoned and disregarded for her valiant offering. May God help her always.
Dear reader, this is why we fall into the hands of our loving creator and cling to him. Through the God given attributes of protecting, nurturing and giving of themselves to the point of dying in every way, a mother can lose her own soul. In such times she needs others to surround her and to remind her to return to her/our first love – Jesus. In duty and passion we must let go of all expectations of serving God in the office of motherhood and realize that there can be no other love for us than His. Only this place can restore us to wholeness.
And so, in His mercy he causes us mothers to find one another along life’s pathways in the strangest places and at the lowest canyons where we feel destitute of the joys of our labours. I can testify that amongst others I have surely entertained ‘strangers unaware’. Thanks be to God who will not leave us destitute when flesh and blood abandon us, he remains faithful.
Before walking away and placing my hand on her shoulder I give a gentle squeeze of appreciation for such an honour, for the sacred trust we shared. I stand before her while silently nodding to salute her with my utmost respect. As I look into the mirror of her soul I receive a reflection of being commended for the largest and most valuable portion of my life’s efforts to date. As the pages of our books begin to flip forward it was as though a clear fresh new page is presented before us. Though we had cherished the privilege of stewarding the talents that Father God placed in our hands it was now time to pick up the pen and write once again. Releasing the light and hope of our Father I said this: ‘The greatest love one can have is to lay down their life for a friend. Even if that someone is your first born son.’ Heaven has seen your sacrifice of love and calls you to rise up in dignity once again. Your valuable life is worth more than the affirmation of your dishonourable child.
‘Come up here oh cherished mommy and I will show you glorious things you have not yet seen. With me there are new chapters of joy waiting to be written’. Revelation 4
Happy Mothers Day. God hold you, strengthen you and bless your heart all who are broken and who have been left behind. You are the apple of Gods eye and He will never leave you!