dapples of sunlight ignite
geraniums’ scarlet flame
my heart flickers
The cardinal pair which is faithful to choose nesting sites in our garden is a consistent source of delight for me. Their song draws me from my own nest with pillow and lamp, put down my book, walk barefoot on the cool wet stones of today’s path. I am called to pay attention, to have my heart pierced as the sun rises, to love this world and to cherish this life, to exclaim of the dearness given to me new every day. I love Mary Oliver’s poem that prompts these words for me.
This morning the green fists of the peonies are getting ready
to break my heart
as the sun rises,
as the sun strokes them with his old, buttery fingers
and they open —
pools of lace,
white and pink —
and all day the black ants climb over them,
boring their deep and mysterious holes
into the curls,
craving the sweet sap,
taking it away
to their dark, underground cities —
and all day
under the shifty wind,
as in a dance to the great wedding,
the flowers bend their bright bodies,
and tip their fragrance to the air,
their red stems holding
all that dampness and recklessness
gladly and lightly,
and there it is again —
beauty the brave, the exemplary,
Do you love this world?
Do you cherish your humble and silky life?
Do you adore the green grass, with its terror beneath?
Do you also hurry, half-dressed and barefoot, into the garden,
and exclaiming of their dearness,
fill your arms with the white and pink flowers,
with their honeyed heaviness, their lush trembling,
to be wild and perfect for a moment, before they are
~ Mary Oliver, “Peonies” from New And Selected Poems
Days which lead up to Mother’s Day are a time of reflection and remembering.. I savor the model of mothering provided to me by my mother and grandmothers, express gratitude for their lives, and remember the simple tradition which marked Mother’s Day for me as a child: picking a red rose to wear to church in honor of Mother. Those whose mothers were no longer with them wore a white rose. It was a sweet gesture, and I miss it.
I cherish the images and thoughts of my sons as babies and little boys, and bask in the light of their lives as strong men of faith and integrity who have become faithful husbands and loving fathers. They love me and tell me so in word and actions. From the beginning, being a mother has been an adventure of faith and grace and joy. I have often spoken of the fact that parenting has shown me more about God’s love and care for me than any other element of my life. On Mother’s Day, our church’s order of service included a statement that affirmed this.
“It has been the amazing, often painful, often ecstatic adventure of being a parent that has most formed me. It is parenting that has made, unmade, and remade me into someone who comes up hard against the great religious questions that have always been part of the human quest:
Who in fact am I?.
What is a life well led?
What is most essential, permanent, and foundational?
What responsibility do I have to others?
How do I deal with evil and fear?
What is “the good?”
How do I love well?
How do I move in this wild and worrisome world with some grace and joy?
Wendy Wright, Seasons of a Family’s Life: Cultivating the Contemplative Spirit at Home