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March 2023

One thing remains - the love that never fails

No matter how old I get, February is always a time of childhood memories for me, of winters in upstate N.Y. with feet of snow and a mother who dressed me reminiscent of the young son in “The Christmas Story,” stuffed into a snowsuit like Aditya-romansa-5zp0jym2w9M-unsplash sausage into a casing and double wrapped with scarves and gloves, and mittens on top.

My dad wasn’t so tough a clothing task master. With him, there was more chance of bending a joint, and getting frostbite. I think the difference had something to do with a mother’s love.

To be sure, one of the constants in my life growing up was my mother. It was she who always left the light on in the living room window, leading me home with the warm yellow glow on cold winter evenings. I never doubted for a moment that she could move mountains for me if I needed them moved. I’m not proud to admit, I sometimes gave her the opportunity to prove me right.

Yes, she had the “snowsuit” tendency to be overprotective, but in the important times she allowed me to fly, in spite of the pain it caused her. And in all things, she was always there for me when I needed her, perhaps not happy with my choices, but always offering her love, none-the-less.

I remember it was a snowy February morning, close to my mom’s birthday and years after she died, when I first heard the song, “One Thing Remains,” sung by the group Passion. The words seemed to capture the essence of everything she was and everything she gave: “Higher than the mountains that I face, stronger than the power of the grave, constant through the trial and the change, this one thing remains … Your love never fails, it never gives up, it never runs out on me … and on and on and on it goes … and I never have to be afraid because this one thing remains … your love.”

I had to pull over into a parking lot until I stopped crying.

Since then, the song always brings her to mind, and though I’m older now than she was when she died, I still feel the loss in my heart, a physical ache, but tempered today with gratitude for all she gave me.

I also find myself thinking of Mary who followed Jesus during his years of ministry, right up to his death on the cross where she stood at his feet, held fast to him, in his agony and hers, by a mother’s love. Looking at her, his thoughts could easily have been similar to the words of the song: “Your love never fails, it never gives up, it never runs out on me … And it’s higher than the mountains that I face and it’s stronger than the power of the grave and constant in the trial and the change, this one thing remains. … your love never fails.”

If I’m honest, I’ll admit that sustaining that kind of love requires some emotional and spiritual support. Forty days seems just about right. That’s why, this Lent, I’m spending some time with two women who know how to do it well. This year, Lent will be Mary, mom and me.

Photo by Aditya Romansa on Unsplash