Reflection Masthead
Issue 174 - Mother: a verb - May 2018
"As a mother and First Lady,..." Melania Trump began her national initiative, "The Best" -- an awareness campaign focusing on children's "well-being, social media and opioid use" along with "values such as healthy living, encouragement, kindness and respect."  This news release prompted our consideration of mothering, especially in difficult situations.

Good Mothers, Bad Situations
          I believe that truly there are mothers who have had perfect children, and whose lives have been flawless, joy-filled, blissful, and fulfilling. I also have a hunch that many mothers hurt with each of their child's bruised knees and broken hearts. And I have known many good mothers who are undaunted in a difficult situation and say with Mrs. Trump, "it will not stop me from doing what I know is right."
          For some children, hardly a day goes by without some personal - or spiritual - attack, sometimes at the hands of their peers. Isolation engendered by social media only broadens and deepens the gap between parents and children. At best, mothering - even for the best mother - can sometimes be a very difficult situation. Many will intuit, nevertheless, that it will not stop her from doing what she knows is right.
Seven Sorrows

          I recall the old, maybe medieval, religious piety of the "Seven Sorrows of Mary" - The Prophecy of Simeon (Luke 2: 34-35), The Flight into Egypt (Matt 2:13), The Loss of the Child Jesus in the Temple (Luke 2: 43-45), Meeting of Mary and Jesus on the Way of the Cross (Via Dolorosa), Crucifixion of Jesus (John 19:25), Piercing of the Side of Jesus (Mt. 27:57-59), and Burial of Jesus (John 19:40-42). These sorrows did not stop Mary from doing what she knew was right. The Seven Sorrows of Mary might be considered an archetypal image of the sorrowing mother. Moreover, it might also be an invitation to enter the remembrance - the Anamnesis - the passion, death, and resurrection of the mother soul.   
           If you are a mother, or if you have had a mother, remember that a mother's journey with her child is a walk that leaves footprints so firm and so deep, that the child can always find their way back to her. In these imprints, a child can likely find values such as healthy living, encouragement, kindness and respect.        --Jan
         The word "mothering" has fallen out of fashion. Webster defines the verb "to mother" as " to care for or protect (someone) like a mother." While there is certainly good reason to shift toward the gender-neutral term of "parenting," it is still worth remembering that "mother" is not only a noun, but a verb.
       The British term "Mothering Sunday" might serve us better than the American term "Mother's Day."[1] It reminds us that we celebrate not simply the biological or legal status of being a mother, but rather the care-giving, guiding and nurturing that we (it is hoped) receive from our mothers. It reminds us that mother is a verb, not simply a noun.
         It might further remind us that it is not only mothers who provide mothering. Consider Alysia Demery, an 18-year-old from Redwood City, California, whom I read about this week . A visitor to the local the Boys & Girls Club asked her what she wanted to do with her life. She said she wanted to go into the music industry, and eventually hoped to live in New York. The man nodded and replied, "Yeah, I can see you there." It was the first time, Demery reports, that anyone had ever affirmed her dream.
         The visitor was NBA All-Star Kevin Durant, who was once himself an awkward, skinny kid, raised by a single mother, who found affirmation at a Boys & Girls Club. Demery is one of four members of the Richmond Boys & Girls Club for whom Durant will pay their college tuition. "I had no idea how I was going to pay for college," Magali Pineda, another of the teens said.
         But Durant is doing more than simply writing checks. "He just talks to me about how he was always doubted when he was younger," Alysia Demery says. He just talks to her and affirms her dreams.
          "To care for and protect like a mother." Mothering is something we all can do.

                                                                   -- Bill

[1] Although the origins of Mothering Sunday  are much different.

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Bill Howden and Jan Davis
Soul Windows Ministries