The Promise of Mother’s Day

 

Yesterday, as I was driving to Barnes and Noble to write a little bit about Your Heart’s Desire, I realized today is Mother’s Day.  As some of you know my mom passed away three months ago.  And as the knowledge of this day dawned, as if on cue, rain began to fall.  It was a soft, gentle spring rain.  On the left side of the road, however, the sun shined through billowing clouds.   And as thoughts of my mother branched through my mind, my heart thrummed with grief.  Yet I knew, any second: “She’ll send a rainbow.”  And sure enough, just when the pangs of hurt swelled into tears, a rainbow– low, and shimmering, bloomed across the sky.  It was full—with the purple particularly radiant.  I hurried to park the car to get out and stare.  My heart leapt with gratitude. 

The rainbow, that Promise of eternal life–of ever unfolding creation in spite of darkness and tears, spanned an iridescent bridge across the sky connecting Heaven and Earth.  And it was beyond beautiful.  It was my mother’s love stretching down in a gesture of flowering luminosity.

And then, after about ten minutes, it began to dissolve, and the backdrop of the dark, late afternoon sky stood steely grey.  But the dark clouds had been touched.  The colors were still there announcing themselves through the many rooms of those drifting castles, kissing the faces of any silken-clad angels sleeping on downy beds. 

And I can keep moving.  She sent a rainbow, and so I, in turn, send it to you. Obviously my Blackberry’s camera does not capture the brilliance of the rainbow’s triumphant gateway, but you get the idea. 

So remember, when the going gets tough; when the hurt hurts; when the memories flood your chest and cast their fragrance through the rain of your tears, there is always Light; and there will always be rainbows.  Glorious, heart strumming-mixtures of rain and sun, with the rain being just as crucial to these celebrations as the light.  These Promises have been made for you, for me, for all of us.  Pursue Your Heart’s Desire, find your true place in God’s Universe; find your voice and instrument in His choir of Love and His orchestra of Service—and shine.  Let the Light catch your tears and through them proclaim rainbows of Hope to everyone you meet.

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Copyright Joseph Anthony of the Wonder Child Blog


Here and Now


                                                                                                           

I am listening to a cassette tape that’s 29 years old.  It’s of my mother and I teaching preschool catechism classes.  I was 14 and her assistant.  It was my first teaching job. 

Her voice is light and musical.  She leads the children in a prayer: “Dear God, I am your little child.  Thank You for my family.  Amen.”   

She tells the students I am her son and that I will be her helper, and that I am a good drawer. 

She tells them not to run outside after class is over.  She doesn’t want them to get hit by a car.

She tells them they will have a snack and asks me to pass out vanilla wafers and lemonade.  We sit picnic style on the floor. I hear myself whistling in the background.

While they’re eating, she shows me a house she drew that she is planning on showing them. “Oh is that what that is?”  I tease.  She laughs and says, “I know you could do better, Smarty.”

She turns on a record of Carey Landry and everyone is singing, “Oh, How I Love Jesus,” as they draw pictures of their houses and their families.  I hear myself singing.  It’s like listening to a ghost.  It’s me, I recognize the timber, but it’s so much thinner and crackly with adolescent changes.  The record begins to skip.  We laugh.  I give the needle a nudge.

At the end of class she asks the children if they were good enough to deserve lollipops.  “Yes,” I pipe up.  She gives everyone, including me, a lollipop. 

I hear us sending off the last of the children.  We are outside.  It must have been a sunny day in spring.

The tape is going to end soon.  I am dreading the moment.  The wheels carry the tape along like a little brown river.  The hazy hiss of the tape is loud as it flows, carrying memories as it goes, like a river carrying pieces of the sun. 

There’s a long quiet period.  I can just barely hear my mother in the distance talking with one of the parents.  I wish I knew what was happening.  I hear the wind blowing over the microphone.  I haven’t said a word in several minutes.  I wonder if I am just standing there watching her.

And then I hear us getting into the car.  The car door shuts.  I hear myself saying: “Oh the tape recorder is still going.”  “Oh you had it on all this time?”  She says.  Then it’s over.  The tape ends.  It just stops.  And with it my heart aches.   I feel suddenly empty.  I don’t know what I was expecting to hear—some kind of secret message?  Just more of her voice?  Part of me wishes I hadn’t turned the tape on.  My feelings are all a bit jumbled.  I feel strangely stunned as if I’ve lost her again.  But no.  It’s just more grief.  I miss her, plain and simple.  There are no regrets—even though regrets are trying to break in and smash the tenderness that exists between us. 

And it is OK.  I can let her voice go.  I can let go of teaching now if I choose.  I do not need to fear being disloyal to her (or my father, who also was a teacher) if I break away and do something else.  I can fulfill my own dreams.  What matters now is that I remember how quickly it can all end.  How suddenly the tape can stop. 

I rise up to meet the rest of the day.  There is a calm, but steady urgency.  The wheels are turning.  There are people to love, dreams to manifest, voices to listen to, here and now. 

 

 

Copyright Joseph Anthony of the Wonder Child Blog


The Viewing


                                                                                                                      

My mother’s voice still rings within me, although there have been times over the last few days when I consciously forgot about it, as awful as that may sound.  I take comfort in knowing, however, that, like the resounding song of God that thrums through me and all creation, her voice is there, fragile, yet wrapped in strong, silver chords.

I hadn’t seen my mother since December.  She was frail and sickly then, but I thought she would live a few more years.  Seeing her body in the open-casket viewing this past Tuesday, was both shocking and reassuring.  For as a result of working through my amends I was able to make peace with my mom a few years ago.  Together we shared a sweet, intimate connection.  We spoke often of saints and matters of faith.  And while she still held on to the sadness that I was the child “who moved away,” she still appreciated that we could talk the way we did—openly and comfortably. 

So there she was—dressed in a red sweater, hands folded across her chest, as if, as the poet, Bill Knott* says, “she was flying into herself.”  Under her hands were her rosary and her prayer books.  And since she loved crossword puzzles and did several every day, my brother tucked the one she would have done on February 18th at her side.  She had on golden earrings, and my brother, a barber, had actually gone into the funeral home the day before and cut her hair.  How tender that image is to me of him cutting her hair.  I am not sure I could have done that.  I told him how grateful I was for his loving act.

She looked peaceful, a bit stern, almost like a royal bird lying there—light as a feather.  She looked healthier, oddly enough, than I had seen her in years.  I kept expecting her to rise up and say, “Hey, what’s going on?”  So many feelings—angry, sad, dramatically tragic, strangely silly, peaceful, happy, all swirled through me as I saw her lying there. 

A kindly old woman from my mom’s church came up to me as I stood there and said, “She looks peaceful.  I sure hope she’s in heaven.”  “Why wouldn’t she be?”  I asked.  “Oh, I’m sorry,” the old woman said, “it’s just that one never knows.” “I do,” I said, “my mom is in heaven right now, singing and dancing with the other angels and saints.  She’s doing whatever she loves to do.”  “Oh dear,” apologized the old woman, “I didn’t know you were her son.  I’m so sorry for your loss.”  And, looking rather embarrassed, she slunk away. 

I turned back to my mother’s beautifully decorated shell and, while my heart aches to be able to speak with her again, bake bread with her again, or just sit with her in silence at the kitchen table again, I know—all dogmatic theology be damned—my mother is in heaven, happy and singing, truly, a bird on a wing.

*The Naomi Poems: Corpse and Beans

Copyright Joseph Anthony of the Wonder Child Blog


On the Death(?) of my Mother

I wrote that previous entry a few days ago and had it scheduled to be published this morning.  Little did I know that my mother would pass away Saturday morning.  She died in her sleep of congestive heart failure.  She lives in Detroit and I live in Philly. We spoke last week and it was a pleasant talk.  I was trying to encourage her to use positive affirmations and to have faith in her prayers.  She sounded weak, but in good spirits.  I did not know that would be good-bye.  When I got word of her death I was buying coffee for my wife.  My sister called crying and told me what happened.  As I walked back to my car my knees began to shake.  For while we knew our mother was failing in health, we did not know how much longer she had.  And so she has moved on.  This is what she wanted.  She was suffering and nearly incapacitated these last few weeks.  Now, I believe, she is resting in her Savior’s arms.  She has been transformed, in the twinkling of an eye, as Paul says, into conscious contact with the Wonder Child.  In fact, I daresay, she is a Wonder Child—“For behold, ye are sons and daughters of God.” 

And now I have yet another opportunity to demonstrate the ideas wrote in the previous post.  And because I have the loving support of friends and family, and because I do walk hand-in-hand with the Wonder Child, I know “that out of every season of grief and suffering, I shall see His marvelous wonders to perform.”

So my family and I are on our way to Michigan for my mother’s funeral.  And because I am not over being self-centered, I struggle through worrying about what other people will think of me for how long we are able to stay after the funeral, while at the same time slowly grasping the idea that I will not see the physical form of my mother again.  And as I move through the process of feeling my feelings—the grief and the anger, I can’t help but remember a poem that Emmet Fox put it his book, Power Through Constructive Thinking (Plus) :


Resurgam

There is no death!  Our stars go down

To rise upon some fairer shore;

And bright in heaven’s jeweled crown

They shine forevermore.

 

There is no death!  The dust we tread

Shall change beneath the summer showers

To golden grain or mellow fruit,

Or rainbow-tinted flowers.

 

 

The granite rocks in powder fall,

And feed the hungry moss they bear,

The fairest leaves drink daily life

From out of viewless air.

 

There is no death!  The leaves may fall,

The flowers may fade and pass away;

They only wait through wintry hours

The coming of the May.

 

And, ever near us, though unseen,

The fair immortal spirits tread;

For all the boundless universe

Is life; there is no dead!

 

                                                Attributed to Bulwer Lytton

Copyright Joseph Anthony of the Wonder Child Blog


Special Thanks to Lefty’s Right.com

Before I get too much further on this blog, I want to thank my host, “Lefty’s Right.com.”  This is my first time ever making a blog and I am not all that computer savvy to boot.  This morning I had several questions about creating this blog and I called their customer service center.  The gentleman I spoke with was so kind, patient, and understanding.  He kept saying, “no worries.”  This is exactly the kind of nurturing the Wonder Child needs when embarking on a new adventure.  The agent never spoke down to me.  I felt safe to ask any questions I had.  In fact, he anticipated questions that I didn’t even know I had–but I had them!  So, anyone considering getting a website or a blog, use Lefty’s Right.com.  They are awesome!  Here’s their link: lefty’sright.com.  Have fun.  Cheers.

Copyright Joseph Anthony of the Wonder Child Blog