The name for this blog comes from the Hebrew word merchab. Merchab is a masculine noun that appears most often in the Psalms of the Hebrew Scriptures. It means a broad or roomy place, an expansive place, a wide place. Read more...

May 10, 2009

Mother's Day

My mother died seven months ago.

On this first Mother’s Day without her, it feels important to acknowledge that she was not a perfect mother just as I was not a perfect son.

The complex transactions of navigating a workable life within the confusing decades of the 1950’s and ‘60’s demanded a high price from my mother. She struggled to find her way in the maze of social pressures and expectations that made up her world as a stay-at-home mum and wife.

On the surface my mother appeared to be the perfect combination of mother to her children, “helpmate” in the shadow of her husband, hostess for the social obligations her world imposed upon her. She seemed to thrive in the background. Most people saw my mother as kind, sweet, gentle, and humble. She was all of these things.

But, as with all of us, some of what my mother appeared to be on the surface was true, some was a costly illusion. What did not appear on the surface were my mother’s sadness, her fear, anxiety, and sense of inadequacy.

Her glass was always half empty. She knew she would have been happier if it could only have been a little fuller.

My mother died early on the morning of Remembrance Day. My wife and I were away and rushed to catch a 10:00 morning ferry. An hour into our voyage, the captain announced that at 11:00 the ferry’s engines would be cut, the ship’s whistle sound and we would observe a minute of silence in honour of those who had died. As the 11:00 eerie stillness enfolded us; my wife and I sat holding hands and crying.

We cried for the loss of a mother. We cried for the massive conflicts and tragedies of humanity. We cried for the complications, confusions and compromises of our lives. We cried because we knew how imperfectly we all live, how inadequately we love and how incompletely we fulfill the deepest call of our lives.

The day after my mother died, I met, as I do every Wednesday morning, with a small group of people for meditation, Bible reading, and discussion. We are reading through the book of Psalms. That morning we had reached Psalm 35 and stopped at verse 14, which ends with the Psalmist saying, “I went about as one who laments for a mother, bowed down and in mourning.” As I read these words, I knew that the God to whom the Psalmist spoke holds all the tensions, complexities and failures of our lives with tenderness and compassion.

So, on this first Mother’s Day without my mother, the gift I would give her if I could, would be the freedom she never really knew. I would give her the chance to live boldly and authentically in tune with the true depths of her innermost being. I would give her courage and the chance to open more fully to that spacious place within herself wherein dwells the truth and light of the God in whom she now rests.

Perhaps the only way for me to give my mother these gifts now that she is gone is to live them more fully in my own life.

I honour my mother’s life by allowing my heart to break open. The gift I give my mother on this Mother’s Day is the gift of my life lived genuinely and deeply in tune with God’s Spirit and guidance. I honour my mother’s life by living in tune with that gentleness and goodness that was so often shown through the kindness of her life.

1 comment:

Triskit said...

Lovely thoughts here and in your sermon today Christopher. It's my fist mother's day without my Mum too and you gave me some good perspective rather than dwelling on the obvious emptyness. Thank you.