Friday, May 11, 2012


I stand at the stove, whisking a white sauce for a pasta dish. It slowly starts to bubble, begins to thicken, and it occurs to me that I never had to learn how to make a white sauce. I left childhood, left life alongside my Mom, simply knowing how. Sure, it's so simple. After all, it’s just butter, flour, milk, and a little seasoning. It's just a white sauce, right? But somehow on this day, it affects my heart. I stand over the heat from the stove, whisking away, and I’m aware that that this is so much more than just knowledge or ingredients. It’s more than simple, and it’s more than just know-how. Like so many other things from childhood, it’s a gift. The older I get, the more I realize that my life is full of things, little things, everyday things, white sauce types of things, that my Mom showed me, taught me, guided me through when I was young.

White sauce, pie pastry, stuffed acorn squash… probably an endless list of things my Mom has taught me, given me. I find myself reflecting on ways that my Mom has influenced the ordinary, the everyday, the stuff that makes up life.

This Sunday is Mother’s Day. It’s a day when we take the time to pause and honour our Moms. We thank them for who they are, for who they have been, and for who they continue to be. There is so much I could say--so many ways great and small that my Mom has shaped my life.

I look back and am thankful for the small things. And I also look back and am grateful for the profound ways my Mom shaped my life, too.

My parents are very different from each other. My Pop quite naturally, impulsively, even, goes through each day with vibrant joy, delighting and experiencing the people and the life around him. My mom, though, she delights in beauty and people, too, but it’s different with her. It’s almost as though rather than it being a reflex, she’s chosen to live this way. It’s almost like my Mom has been intentional to find beauty, to experience that which is lovely, and then to transparently worship God because of it. In so many ways I’m hard-wired more like my Dad. And yet recently I’ve been noticing how profoundly my everyday has been influenced by my Mom. For all these years I’ve watched my Mom seek beauty and find it, and I’ve chosen to follow her in this. If you go for a walk with my Mom, she is always looking, gazing, beholding. As she goes through life, she has been purposeful to find what is beautiful, and then to enjoy it. She’ll walk by the same pine tree that hundreds of others will walk by and completely miss, but not Mom. Her hand will reach out and grab a pine branch, and she’ll be able to feel and experience and breathe the scent of pine that everyone else has missed. My Mom has taught me to find beauty, to enjoy those things which we can so easily walk by, so easily miss.

Growing up, me and my sisters used to occasionally become annoyed because my Mom would never allow jars with labels on the dinner table. It seemed so extreme, or something. Who cares if beside the candles and flowers there is an ugly salad dressing bottle with obnoxious advertising and writing on it, right? But I get it now, and I live this way too. Each day is life, and so much of our experience is what we choose to make it. The moments of loveliness, of either profound or simple beauty, they often need to be found, or even created. My mom taught me to look for beauty, to find it, to teach my children to find it. The sun goes down in exquisite splendor each night… but it’s a choice whether or not we will be outside, watching for it, walking at the right time, able to behold it. And so now, when I go for a walk and notice the intricate beauty and detail of a Spring tree in full bloom, I give thanks for my Mom, knowing that she taught me to do this, taught me to walk through life with eyes that are open, expectant.

I would imagine that every child has a collection of images of their Mother, etched in memory. For some of us, we're blessed with so many pictures that are beautiful, peaceful. 
One of the clearest pictures of my Mom is her sitting with a stack of about three books in front of her, maybe one or two of them open, and she is thinking, dreaming, maybe even writing in her mind. And she is praying. When I was young, I don’t think I took the time to think about which books were her constant companions. Maybe I noticed, but I didn't take note. It’s only since I’ve been older that I’ve been curious and taken the time notice and reflect. This is the stack: a worn Bible, a frayed Psalter, a massive commentary.
My Mom never pretended to be perfect, to have it all together, to have a faith that was polished, glossy, flawless. In fact, my Mom doesn’t really know how to pretend at anything; she is one of the most transparent and honest people that I know. Her faith is real. Her joy is real. Her sorrow is real. In this, in her transparency, she has modeled for me a most profound freedom; the freedom to be who I actually am, to not pretend. And though it’s not always lovely or shiny, it’s real. Her faith in Christ has been this way too: visible, raw, real... incredibly resilient. And though she’s always had an ability to articulate her faith in Christ with unusual eloquence, her story of life redeemed through Christ, as she's lived it, as she's told it, is completely unaffected by pretense. It’s only as I’ve grown that I’ve come to see the uniqueness of this, to more fully understand how authentic and beautiful her life in Christ is.

On Mother’s Day we think about our Moms, we honour them. My Mom? She is one of incredible strength, faith, and grace. She taught me so many small things, equipping me for life in some utterly basic, practical ways. And she taught me many profound things. The older I get, the more I live and experience success and failure alike, the more clearly I see who my Mother is and the incredible example that is her life.
Strength and honor are her clothing; She shall rejoice in time to come.
She opens her mouth with wisdom, And on her tongue is the law of kindness.
She watches over the ways of her household, And does not eat the bread of idleness.
Her children rise up and call her blessed.

Happy Mother’s Day, Mom. I love you.