Mother’s Day is rather a mixed bag. I suspect that many holidays contain multiple layers of emotions, memories and thoughts, like a rich layer cake or triple scoop ice cream cone, each scoop a different flavor. Mother’s Day, it seems, gets top billing over Father’s Day, and that seems unfair to me. Mother’s Day can feel like a scab that gets rubbed raw each year for women who aren’t mothers, either by choice or by circumstance. Some have had relationships with mothers that are better not celebrated. Some have never known their mothers. This year I was reminded of the empty space in my heart that my mother used to fill, when Rod asked if I happened to have any extra Mother’s Day cards in my treasure trove of cards for all occasions. Before I even realized the impact of my words, I commented “No, I don’t. I haven’t had need to send one for the past 10 years.” That’s how long its been since my mom died.
Jesus promises in John 14:18, “I will not leave you orphaned; I am coming to you.” That is true. Somehow, through the presence of the Holy Spirit, we adopted as children of God. We are not orphaned. And long before our mothers depart this life for heaven, women show up who “mother us,” a gift, I believe, of God.
I discovered one such mother in a lady by the name of Mrs. Lambeck. I have no idea what her first name was, but she was my 5th grade Sunday School teacher. She was loving and kind, with high expectations for us students. All of us worked hard to memorize the verses she gave us, not out of fear of punishment, but because we didn’t want to disappoint her. She told us that her door was always open and if we had a problem, we could come to see her.
It just so happens that a problem developed in my life. One of the neighbor boys started smoking cigarettes, which troubled me greatly. Remembering her invitation, I hopped on my bike one afternoon and showed up on her doorstep. She invited me in, and offered me cookies and lemonade, which I was more than happy to accept. I told her about my problem, and while I have no idea what she said, what I do remember was her kind presence, providing space and time to gently hold my troubles. That was all I needed. And mostly, that is what we all desire – space and time and presence to hold our troubles. Family in the best sense of that term.
For her, and all the women in my life who have “mothered” me, including some of you at St. Paul’s UCC, I give God thanks today. ~