Monday, December 20, 2010

Mother and Child

I have so many thoughts it is hard to know where to begin. I watched my child cross over from being my child to being mother to her child. We are now equals. I can't tell her what to do, where to go or even how to raise her child. She is her own woman, and I can only offer her my shoulders and my wisdom, should she seek it.

My first thought: Time and space have been condensed by technology. The world is no longer a great big place to be explored. Everything is mapped, charted from above and below. Photographs so detailed and so fine, zoom in and the smallest wonders of creation are seen. The invisible particle becomes as big as the wall onto which its image is projected. Our response to that fact is to yawn. What else is new?

We see the child wonderfully knit inside his mother's womb with sharp focus, his features are known before he even takes his first gulp of air. I have videos of my children that are so crisp and fresh, that they could have been made yesterday, and no one would know that the tow headed one year-old burbling on camera has just given birth. Time is evaporated, condensed and memory is sweetened by forgiveness and reconciliation.  

Second thought: My mother. My mother died when I was eight. She never saw me grow up, graduate high school, get married, have children....or see me become a grandmother. She was never a grandmother. She died at the age of 29, just after her fifth child, a daughter, was born. Even in 1970, the death rates for mothers giving birth in this country were not what they were just half a century before that. Her death sent shock waves all over the hospital and community and ripped our family apart with shattering devastation, and we feel the aftershocks in moments far removed from the day it happened. Sometimes unexpectedly, and sometimes, like the day when James was born, with a wistful grimace of loss.

Today is the boy's father's birthday. It was also my mother's birthday. Dates and events are always a thing to ponder. Consider: Mary's child was born on a Friday, on the 17th of a month. Mary was born on a Friday, on the 17th of a month. Whether it is life or death, dates always hold signs and wonders for me, though I am not astrological in nature. My youngest was born on Easter Sunday, and that evening there was a total eclipse of the moon, and a comet in the sky.  Such is the stuff of wonderful stories. Fictions to entertain. Facts that cause us to wonder.

Third thought: We are in the last week before Christmas. Many people feel cheer and hope at this time of year, fueled by twinkling lights and happy songs, with happy memories. Many others feel grating annoyance at the same things, perhaps with sad memories. I guess it depends on how many lights are twinkling in the neighbor's yard, and how many times you are forced to listen to "I want a Hippopotamus for Christmas". The important thing about Christmas is buried under a blizzard of spending and partying.

Christmas isn't actually a High Holy Day. It's celebration was never proscribed for the Christian. In fact, many Christians do not celebrate it at all. For many reasons, all valid. The 'reasons' for the season are varied, stemming from its pagan beginnings to the present tackiness, greed, avarice and gluttony that epitomize the holiday today. Banning crĂȘches and crosses and trees doesn't bother me as much as the collective amnesia that fogs our crowded minds. We are forgetting that All Powerful God became a helpless baby boy.

When I beheld my daughter in the throes of giving birth to her son, I thought about Mary, Mother of God, in her own throes. It is the living, eternal nativity, played out in the ordinary every day. 

I thought about the Slaughter of the Innocents that followed His birth. Just another slaughter of Jews in a long procession of slaughters that have marred history. We are in such times, with evil becoming more sanitized and discreet, festooning its deeds with shiny, happy words, like 'choice' and 'fetus' and 'unviable tissue'.  They smile, the evil ones, as they go about their slaughtering of  innocents, hoping to erase God completely, before He finds them.

The love of God is dispassionate and universal, and my final thought is this: You, who think your sin is so grievous that you have made reservations in Hell, are much closer to Heaven than many who boast that they are booked on the eternal cruise of Spiritual Smooth Sailing.  Your broken heart is the only gift required. It is all you have. Give it completely. It is more priceless than frankincense, gold or myrrh. 

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