Sunday, May 11, 2008

Mothers Day

It's Mothers Day, and Pentecost as well; plus the bishop was coming to church this morning, so we were all invited to wear red, orange or yellow for the occasion.

I decided to show up in this absolutely delicious (and VERY 80's -- my husband says I look like a real estate agent in it) red leather blazer with white leather piping that I picked up for a song at a local consignment store.

But I went to the early service, which was not attended by the bishop, and there were only a handful of folks there, none wearing red or even orange. So I stood out a bit -- unusual for me, as despite my thespian tendencies I tend to keep a low profile -- and that was okay. I'm thinking that as I get older I should be able to relax and dress as the mood strikes me. But at the same time I was very aware that if my daughters had been at home I would not have been allowed out of the house in this jacket!

I was reading Anne Lamott again over breakfast this morning, and (perfect timing) found myself at the chapter where she is struggling mightily with her son over his use of the car. I am not in that awful phase with my daughters right now -- they are very far away, and we are missing each other, so that sort of roiling fury you can get into when you are all living on top of each other hasn't happened in quite a while.

But I realized, when I began to choose an image for today's blog, that even though those struggles are pretty distant right now, I still didn't quite want to pick "the pretty image" to represent Mothers Day. The apple blossom was the first I shot; it is from my not-so-recently deceased 90-year-old neighbor's apple tree, and it seemed appropriate because she definitely mothered me (and I loved her dearly). And there is that Biblical connection, with Eve, and the apple tree, and that wonderful line in Genesis 3:16 about "great will be your labors in childbirth."

But I wanted something else. So I took some of the flowers my daughter sent for Mothers Day and mixed them with some fake flowers in a pink bucket and put them outside on the table with our garden goddess. But the color is chipping off her cheeks, and she looks a bit put-upon by the flowers, so I decided to just shoot the flowers next to a piece of driftwood.

And that's probably the prettiest shot. But I think the one I like best is still the middle one. Because mothering isn't always pretty, and it can wear away at the mask we like to keep up, the mask of competence and control. The gifts it brings can sometimes be uncomfortable, and the whole process definitely cuts into our alone time...

But then I look at the tulip, resting so sweetly against the scarred cheek, and there is a tenderness there, reflected in the sweet half-smile and downcast eyes of the goddess. And that tenderness, to me, is the heart of it all, both the heart of what I have come to feel for my daughters -- and learned to feel from the first moment I held them -- and the heart of what I have begun to sense coming from that godly spirit that rests within me and above me and encircles me with love.

Like that line from the service which I have cited before: may you feel the blessing of the Holy Spirit, that broods over creation like a mother over her children. And so I wish a Happy Mothers Day to mothers and children everywhere; may you find that tenderness and cherish it, if only for a moment.

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