Sunday, May 8, 2016

Happy Mother's Day, Mom

Dear Mom,

Remember those cat eye sunglasses with the *very* colorful rims? I was in fifth grade when you wore them. In public. And you didn't care what other people thought. You didn't listen to my stammering protests or pay attention to the most recent fashion magazines. You just donned them with confidence and style. I think you may have even danced your way into the mall with those things on your head, just in case people hadn't already noticed them.

I love you for that.

I love that you've always marched — or danced — to the rhythm of your own drummer. You haven't tried to cram your soul into the stifling corsets of silly expectations, reductionistic roles, or cultural “coolness.”

Your tenacious commitment to be who God calls you to be is evident beyond your daring sunglass choices.

It was evident when you stood alone before the city council to challenge an unethical education mandate.

It was evident when you stood up for the woman in your musical theater group whose male director felt her gender and youth made it okay for him to invade her privacy and publicly degrade her.

It was evident when you brought the four of us kids to the courthouse to participate in silent protests on the anniversary of Roe vs. Wade. You wanted to show us that there are some things in the world worth fighting for, and that it is possible fight in a quiet and respectful way.

When people drove by honking and yelling profanities at us, we watched you smile graciously, with dignity. When a man walked past and accused you of brainwashing us, you engaged him respectfully but didn't back down. Because you know it isn't brainwashing to instill in your kids a value for our most fundamental right—the right to live—and it isn't brainwashing to raise your kids with a sense of justice and a commitment to action when the world goes topsy turvy.

You taught us how to do the right thing, but you also taught us that life is for having fun.

When we studied world religions you thought it would be fun to celebrate the Jewish Festival of Booths, and so we made a booth—or sukkah—in our backyard and ate our meals in it that week.
When we grew older and were stressed from school, or irritated with each other, you'd show us how to throw back our heads and laugh and let the stress and irritation drain from our spirits, like air from a balloon.

And when you met people who had come from other countries to create a better life in America, you'd invite them to our house for holidays. They'd bring authentic cuisine from their country, and they'd teach us new words; and we learned that the world is big and grand and full of new friends.
I could go on and on, Mom; you taught us so many things.

You taught us that empty amphitheaters in foreign countries are for dancing,

that empty dishwashers are for loading,

and that empty plots of land are for gardening.

You taught us that we were more important than your sleep when we'd wake up sick in the middle of the night; and you taught us that paint, foam, and cardboard are for creating Halloween costumes, doll houses, and Christmas presents.

A few years ago, little brother Marc was driving onto his college campus with his buddy. As they crawled across speed bumps Marc noticed a male student about his age standing alone and looking despondent.

Go talk to him. The Holy Spirit prompted Marc to do something unusual and even embarrassing.

He turned to his friend and asked him to stop the car, and then he walked over to the student and introduced himself. After talking awhile, the student told Marc he was fighting despair and wondering if life was worth living. Marc got his phone number so they could hang out, and he walked back to the car one friend richer.

Marc reminded me of you that day, Mom.

Like you, he has become a man who heeds the voice of the Spirit, even when it's uncomfortable. Like you, he knows that we all — the immigrant, the grocery clerk, the marginalized student, the librarian, the homeless, the next-door neighbor — belong to each other.

This is because we learn more from watching lives lived than we learn from powerful rhetoric and substantive textbooks.

We grew up imitating you, Mom, and you have always marched to the beat of the Maker of music —the One wired you to dance, stand up for the oppressed, initiate new friendships, and wear zany sunglasses.

And so today, on Mother's Day, telling you I'm thankful for you just doesn't cut it.

But I am.

I'm thankful for you,

I love you,

and I hope I'm like you when I grow up.

Thank you for being such a marvelous mother.

Happy Mother's Day,

Your Sarah Christine

© by scj

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