The Pastor’s Pen
“O sing to the Lord a new song; sing to the Lord, all the earth!” Psalm 96:1
One of my favorite readings at memorial services turns out to be a modern day parable written by Alice Walker. She may not have intended it so. She writes poetically about her mother in her work “In Search of Our Mother’s Gardens”, processing the inevitable grief of her death. She stirs our memory of all that we received from our mothers, and also what we did not. Remembering our mothers gradually awakens us to the weight of hidden gifts handed down to us, and however awkwardly received, held lightly before we pass them forward.
At my grandmother’s funeral decades ago, I shared this parable that spoke to me then of her. I share it in hopes that it will stir memory for you now.
“I notice that it is only when my mother is working in her flowers that she is radiant, almost to the point of being invisible – except as Creator: hand and eye. She is involved in work her soul must have. Ordering the universe in the image of her personal conception of Beauty.
“Her face, as she prepared the Art that is her gift, is a legacy of respect she leaves to me, for all that illuminates and cherishes life. She has handed down respect for the possibilities – and the will to grasp them.
“For her, so hindered and intruded upon in so many ways, being an artist has still been a daily part of her life. This ability to hold on, even in very simple ways, is work women have done for a very long time.”
We waken to whatever passion our mother’s embraced, that which made her heart sing. Such elegant writing by Walker provokes memory, a parable of course, as our own mother may or may not have gardened anything that involved earth. Yet we observe in memory whatever work she knew her soul must have. When we come to the awareness of the work our own soul must have, then surely in search of our Mother’s Garden, we have found our own.
Prayer: God of all Creation – awaken in us a passion for whatever seed you have planted there that is work our soul must have, that which makes our heart sing. Grant us the faith to hold it fiercely, flourishing it for joy. Amen
God’s grace, mercy and peace,
Pastor Anna V. Copeland
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