Like most women I know, I've gone through several phases in my relationship with my Mom. There were rebellious times when I didn’t want to be anything like her; there were grateful times when I recognized that some of her qualities are unmistakably a part of me, and there was everything in between.
Today, I feel a deeper connection to her 3 ½ years after her death and I wish so much that I could talk with her about that of which we never spoke. Things like how she prayed, the ways she experienced God, how her volunteerism was connected with her faith, what she gave up by being a stay-at-home Mom, what she would change about her choices if she could, what she would do exactly the same.
Six months after she died, I was at annual district church meeting called Synod Assembly. During the opening worship, we sang 3 of her favorite hymns. I could see her in my mind's eye, standing near the heavenly throne singing with me in her full beautiful voice. Quite suddenly, I saw a window into heaven that slid open from the inside and an awareness came over me that said, "your Mom had a call to ministry."
I stopped singing and sat down to process the gift of this awareness, while worship continued around me. I thought about all of the activities my Mom had done throughout her life and of course, so much of it was ministry: running our girl scout troop, writing the church newsletter, managing the hospital gift shop, leading suburban women's education, hosting parties and great fellowship events, and the list goes on. Had she been this vibrant woman today, her pastor would have encouraged her to go to seminary. And I thought I was the family weirdo who is the first and only pastor in my extended family.
Accepting with gratitude that I am more like her than not, came over me again a couple of weeks ago when my sisters and I went through her worldly possessions with the daunting task of deciding what to keep and what to give. We first tackled her dozens and dozens of cookbooks – we took pictures of the recipes she had marked in the books we gave away, and found more recipes tucked in the pages of many of them. But in one cookbook, I found a hand-written sheet of paper on which she had written a reflection about Silence. I had written the reflection about The Gift of Nothingness (which I posted last week, and you can read below on my blog or link to here) just a few months before. The language and the sentiments are remarkably similar. Here are her words:
Silence – the chance to eliminate all sounds so the blood which beats in your pulses
become the only conscious awareness you have
A quiet and peace return as you begin to relax and your blood pulsing begins once again to recede and be natural.
The quiet becomes manifest and your being fades into the stillness of the moment –
be it dawn, high noon, dusk or midnight.
Dawn – a new beginning, a chance to be aware, to feel, to experience, to begin new thoughts and ideas;
to re-establish the positive of yesterdays,
but keep open to the gifts and newness of today
High noon – bright day time, highlighting motives, thoughts, ideas–
no shadows- no hiding
dealing with what is visible, what blossoms open.
It looks like she started a reflection similar to praying the hours throughout the day, but she didn't have a chance to finish writing on the silence that comes at dusk and midnight.
We'll have a lot to discuss when it's my turn to join her in the choir around throne of God. Until then, I'm glad that death has not stopped me from learning more about her and loving her more deeply.