Charleston and Processing Mother's Day

Charleston Lessons learned at my mother’s knee

“Some lessons learned at my mother’s knee: (1) Think before you act; an easy answer to a complex problem usually makes things worse, (2) Jumping out front to take charge and appear decisive can often backfire; leadership is exercised in the group not in isolation, (3) Don’t judge a book by its cover; take the time to know the individual rather than make assumptions based on a stereotype. These lessons are not a matter of politics, but of common sense. They are the wisdom most of us learned as children. The arrogance of ideology is that it thinks it knows more than what it never bothered to learn.” Steven Charleston

Some of the members of our book group of many years

Some of the members of our book group of many years


As I process this Mother’s Day I hear from others how they miss their mother as we gather at a church today inhabited by many retirees like ourselves. One member of the congregation tearfully tells me her mother died on Mother’s Day. My experience is that there are many women and men in the congregation whose mother was not capable of love, but they cannot talk about it. I send them prayers, hoping that they will know God’s love in other ways and know they are indeed loved by God. All the women receive flowers. We go out to eat with friends. All of our children call and send messages.

Many learn about God’s love from their mothers and so expect their mothers always to be that kind of love, but that can never be. It takes much inner work to realize your mother did the best she could under whatever circumstances she was given. I do know and have experienced that when our parents, our mothers are not there or for a multitude of reasons cannot be the mother we had hoped for, God puts someone else in their place to teach us and give to us that knowledge and experience of unconditional love. This is our job as spiritual friends to help each other see how God is working in our lives, to come to awareness of these others, “new mothers”, doulas, who are there to teach us about a love without conditions. I especially give thanks today for so many women in my life who have taught me about God’s love, the Elizabeths, the Annies, the Rosies, the Nynas, the Dodies, the Peggys, the Marys, the Joannes, the Janes, the Phyllises, the Suzannes, the Lauras, the Barbaras, the Wandas, the Chrises, the Sharons, the Fayes, the Shauns, the incredible women who have been in my book, spiritual direction, and dream groups, the women physicians I have worked with, the women I have served with at the altar, and soo many more. This kind of love can only be experienced from many. It is not humanly possible to be contained in one person except in Christ himself.

 Jesus also charges us not just to keep this love bottled up in ourselves or it will turn into self-love. We are charged to give it away, to pass on this love not just to our children but to become mentors of this love to other women.

What has been your experience?