Mary

Mary's wisdom is a mother's wisdom

Visitation, modern, fuzzyThere is an adage that the best gift a father can give his children is to love their mother. I would add, after raising six sons and being a wife, the best gift a mother can give her children is to love herself.

This is a wisdom that was long in coming for me, and even though my children are all grown, I am still struggling to learn how to take care of myself.

As mothers, we have a tendency to sink into the mindset that if we can’t do everything perfectly ourselves, then we are bad mothers. Nothing can be further from the truth.  There is not a person on earth who doesn’t have limitations, and to acknowledge our limitations is not to admit defeat.

It is to be wise.

Women helping women is an ancient tradition welling up from the truth that raising children and caring for a family is hard work. There is no work harder, no physical labor more strenuous, no emotional effort more demanding. Without help we can quickly burn out and our children are the ones who suffer from that burn out.

God calls us to one thing – to love as God loves.

This has nothing to do with how many tasks, dishes or children we can juggle at one time; how long we can go without sleep, or how many burdens we can carry on our very human shoulders. 

Love is about nurturing the seeds of potential God has planted in each heart through our patience, our presence and our prayer. It is about respecting the dignity of the life God has placed in our care. It is about giving roots and wings and abundant offerings of forgiveness – not just to our children, but to our “selves.”

 “During those days Mary set out and traveled to the hill country in haste to a town of Judah, where she entered the house of Zechariah and greeted Elizabeth. When Elizabeth heard Mary's greeting, the infant leaped in her womb, and Elizabeth, filled with the holy Spirit, cried out in a loud voice and said, "Most blessed are you among women, and blessed is the fruit of your womb. And how does this happen to me, that the mother of my Lord should come to me? … Mary remained with her about three months and then returned to her home.”  Luke 1:39-43,56

 

 

 


In gratitude for a mother's love

For the past 20 years, I have written a column, Things My Father Taught Me, in memory of my
Mary_baby_jesus1dad, born out of the pain of grief following his sudden, unexpected death.

My mother, who died soon after, following years of fighting cancer, has waited patiently in the wings, as she did so often at my dance recitals, fully understanding how an only child, and daughter at that, can be so deeply attached to the most important man in her life. But, as I can hear her saying, enough is enough already.

She would point out, that as a mother myself, it is time to honor the ‘women” who have loved me, cared for me and led me to God more through their strength, their actions and their unassuming presence than through their words.

Through my memories of my own mother, I can imagine the memories Jesus must have carried of Mary – smiling, crying, cooking, telling stories, praying, singing, visiting the sick, always being there even when she couldn’t take away his pain.

Mary’s life made it possible for her to understand the heart of the mother and the wife. She knows our joys, our frustrations and our pain because she has shared in them all.

When I was younger, I didn't always appreciate that. I envied Mary more than honored her. But today, having grown older and wiser, and having raised six sons, I find myself turning time and again to the mother who understands both my tears and the heart that is often so full of love it threatens to burst.

Today, when life hands me more than I think I can bear, I remember Mary, standing at the foot of the cross that held her dying son, and I am grateful that Jesus’ words were not just meant for John: “Behold, your mother.”