We celebrate Mother's Day. I'm present with my own mother today, spending time with her as I prepare for major surgery in a few weeks. We are both spending easy time together. I occasionally go out with friends for a visit or to see icebergs (this is Newfoundland after all), but generally we are at home. We sit and read, chat and spend time with family and friends.
Some of my most cherished moments are sitting across from her as she engages in a favourite activity: reading a novel or cooking or baking in the kitchen. She looks so peaceful and content in her apron, whether she is baking bread or preparing a seafood casserole or speaking on the phone.
I don't recall being with her on Mother's Day for many years, perhaps the last time was a few decades ago, when I still lived with my parents before entering the Jesuits. We know, of course, that physical presence is not a requirement for acknowledging and being with people, whether our family members or friends. But it helps now and then, so that we have memories to strengthen us in times of absence.
I remember a moment a few years ago, when I was visiting my mom in my childhood home, just before she was moving to a new setting. I was standing next to her at the clothesline in the backyard. The scene struck me as a fitting place to say farewell to that home. She had lived in the same setting for over sixty years, having moved there to build a house and raise a family after she and my father married.
Her living situation has shifted over the years: her childhood home, the home she made with my father, and the apartment she moved to a couple of years ago. But the qualities she brings to her homes have not substantially changed. That moment at the clothesline was iconic: an image that summed up some of my memories of her engaged in domestic activities that show evidence of her care for people and their goods. I'll always remember that image when I recall the years I spent living on Bell's Turn (my childhood street).
Things are not much different with the place of Jesus in our lives. He reminds us today that, "where I am, there you may be also." He is "the way, and the truth, and the life." That is true whether we are speaking of the earthly Jesus of Nazareth or the Resurrected Lord.
There are enduring qualities and traits, whether we speak of Jesus of Nazareth leaving home to see John the Baptist or the Risen Lord on the Road to Emmaus or on the shores of the Sea of Tiberius. His entire life and way of being with people speaks of peace and love for people. Throughout Easter we've had many reminders of the peace he offers.
The gift of peace comes to us in ordinary ways. It's found in something as simple as the peace and trust I feel sitting with my mom and other loved ones in these days of vacation before surgery. I've been down this road before, but it's always good to be reminded of peace. That's a gift of the Risen Lord. And spending time with our mothers and other important people is one aspect of that peace.
I gave my mother a Mother's Day card. The front shows a small boy tying the laces of his sneakers. "I remember looking up to you when I was a little boy, thinking you were the nicest, prettiest, smartest mom in the world." The inside of the card says, "Now that I'm grown up, I still feel that way. Happy Mother's Day." IgNation promises a prayerful remembrance of all our mothers, living and deceased.