I find it difficult, this discipline of writing. I admire all who have the patience, listening skills and creative capacity to translate thoughts and ideas into words on paper. So here I am struggling to share a thought or two with you in this truly lovely month of May. Perhaps a quote from Catholic author Flannery O’Connor will inspire me and point a direction. O’Connor writes: “Every morning between 9 and 12, I go to my room and sit before a piece of paper. Many times I just sit for three hours with no ideas coming to me. But I know one thing: If an idea does come between 9 and 12, I am there ready for it.”
So after sitting awhile, an idea comes. The May month brings Mother’s Day and a reminder to us all that we would not be here if not for her. Whatever our relationship to her in life, whether she is present, absent, or deceased, we have life-breath and so much more because of her. I like the way Abe Lincoln remembered his mother: “All that I am, or hope to be, I owe to my angel mother. I remember her prayers, and they have always followed me. They have clung to me all my life.”
Although my mother was not a musician, she could play through a spiritual song or prayer on our baby grand piano. She did this in the evenings as we were lulled to sleep by the comfort of her voice and the sacredness of the close and holy darkness.
I’m imagining the hidden daily monotonous acts of service and love that were rendered us in our formative years, and were life-giving for our development. The poet William Wordsworth comments on these acts as “the best portion of a good man’s life, his little nameless, unremembered acts of kindness and of love.” We might adjust that slightly and inclusively by adding our mother’s name to Wordsworth’s expression. The best portion of my mother Helen’s life may well be her gentle spirit, kind smile, and encouragement to always do good to our family and neighbors. She taught me that the worst thing would be to let Jesus pass by. Whenever any of our many elderly neighbors struggled with carrying groceries or needed shopping assistance, my mother set the tone by helping where she could and engaging my brother, sister and me to do the same. I learned to shop at our local food store by assisting a homebound neighbor with her shopping needs.
Perhaps that is my simple message this May day. Return in memory to a particular day in your mother’s life and imagine her dealing with whatever the day presented, especially if there were issues or crises in progress. With what courage and skill especially of the patient variety when troubles mounted did she engage her lot in life. Maybe we were part or cause of the issue or problem at hand. Yikes! Good luck! Be honest!
-- Br. Michael Dubec, OFM