2 Corinthians 4:8-10 We are pressed on every side by troubles, but we are not crushed. We are perplexed, but not driven to despair. We are hunted down, but never abandoned by God. We get knocked down, but we are not destroyed. Through suffering, our bodies continue to share in the death of Jesus so that the life of Jesus may also be seen in our bodies.
As I continue through this Easter season to think about the implications of Jesus’ resurrection, I woke this morning, Mother’s Day, filled with gratitude for the privilege and wonder of participating in the creation of new life. In my case, five brand new, never-existing-before, unique human beings: Michael and Karis in heaven, Dan, Rachel, and Valerie still with us here.
I finished reading on the flight back from Brazil yesterday the story of a girl who was abandoned by her parents. The book, written by Arlete Castro in the charming Portuguese of Portugal, took Pérola through unconscionable abuse and neglect and into the fallout of all this in her own marriage and family. Arlete weaves into the story Pérola’s sense even from very young that someone was with her and protecting her, someone just out of reach of vision and touch. The detailed account of her emotional release and healing is the story of this someone becoming visible to her, with deep compassion because he had walked through it all with her. Pérola’s devastation at her abandonment by her human parents is absorbed little by little into the heart of Jesus as she is able to pour out to him her anguish and anger.
Parenting can be hard. In the case of Pérola’s mother, a battered wife, it was so hard that she gave up, closing her heart and abandoning her children to the streets. The disciples witnessing Jesus’ death felt like he had abandoned them. Healing came through his resurrection. Those still struggling heard his promise, “I will be with you always” (Matthew 28:20; see Hebrews 13:5 and Deuteronomy 31:6 and 8).
Since death could not conquer him, nothing can separate us from Jesus’ love—not even what you and I are dealing with today, as moms or in any part of our lives. May his life be seen in us.
P.S. Here’s some Mother’s Day history and trivia, sent to me by my sister-in-law Elaine:
Mother’s Day is celebrated on different dates around the world. It has been celebrated on the 4th Sunday in Lent in England since the 16th century–called “Mothering Sunday” and a chance for servants to go home to mom, it is also 9 months before Christmas; in France it is the last Sunday in May unless that is Pentecost, then the first Sunday in June; in Spain and Portugal it is Dec 8 which I assume is Immaculate Conception day as it is here–nobody got any of those quiz questions! Mexico and Guate copied the initial May 10 date from the US and it became a national holiday in Guate in 1968.)
I got a kick out of learning more about the creation of Mother’s Day in the US. The woman who wrote “Battle Hymn of the Republic” tried to kick off such a day as an anti-war effort, but it didn’t gain traction. But Anna Jarvis and her brother, a doctor, formed Mothers Day Friendship Clubs in West Virginia to teach sanitation. They refused to take sides in the Civil War and provided nursing and sanitation methods that saved lives. After the war she promoted peace and hosted family picnic days to honor mothers that had an underlying purpose of reconciling neighbors who had taken different sides in the conflict.
After she died, her daughter Anna advocated for a national Mother’s Day. She chose the white carnation as a symbol, saying “Its whiteness is to symbolize the truth, purity and broad charity of mother love; its fragrance, her memory and her prayer. The carnation does not drop its petals, but hugs them to its heart as it dies, and so, too, mothers hug their children to their hearts, their mother love never dying.” (Florists came up with red for living moms, white for the deceased, and people DID get that question!)
After getting Congress to pass a law in 1914 instituting Mother’s Day, Anna was horrified by the commercialization and called florists, greeting card makers, and candy makers “charlatans, bandits, pirates, racketeers, kidnappers, and termites that would undermine with greed one of the finest, noblest and truest movements and celebrations.” The flower delivery people offered her a cut on their profits and she was outraged and refused. She thought people should write letters to their moms rather than send cards. So she tried to get the law revoked and she was arrested for disturbing the peace over the sale of carnations! But at the end of her life when she was old and poor and in a care facility, the florists paid for her care. The part I love the most is the irony of the arrest over a holiday she instituted!!
They say $23 billion was spent on Mother’s Day last year and they expect $25 billion to be spent this year 🙂 Not sure what Anna would think, but I think she could be pleased with the fact that moms get noticed and appreciated!