Mother’s Day Reflections

I am spending some days visiting with my mother.    It was so nice to be here with her for Mothers Day.    We woke up early had a nice breakfast and attended her church.     She is a Presbyterian and the church she attends is quite friendly and open.   Her minister is rather progressive and preaches the teachings of Jesus in light of  “becoming like Him.”    His words all sounded quite yogic to me.    I am paraphrasing but he basically talked about how individuals are influenced by big groups of people over generations and can be infected by a wrong way of viewing the world and life in it.    This is not what religion is and religion should not be used to propagate harm in any way.    Religion is about living a life like Jesus lived, one purely of service and compassion.    He talks about a group of people at the church without naming names, who are really acting out of  great service and compassion.    Apparently a few church members meet regularly on different projects and were presently working  to make comfortable mats, for homeless people, out of plastic bags.   I find myself trying to imagine these mats.   Sam goes on to say that in the coming weeks a large dinner  is planned  to discuss how religion can be part of the solution instead of part of the problem in our culture.    He invites anyone who wants to be sent an invitation for this event to contact the church.   “All are welcome,”  he says, “but everyone must  make a request to be apart of the solution team.”

I am surprised that Mom can adore her minister so much and still be such a neo-con, but I think, maybe her hearing is so bad that she can enjoy the sermon without hearing any of it.    She was so funny shaking Sam’s hand and telling him how inspired she was by his sermon and that she will have to contemplate all he had said, and then turning to me confiding that she didn’t understand a thing.

After we had returned home and she had changed into more comfortable shoes and we were preparing to go for lunch, I told her what Sam had said in his sermon.    She said confidentially, “well you know, I don’t watch Fox News anymore.”   My eyes did not get too wide when she said that, but my smile did.
”Well, she said “except for Huckabee on Saturdays, I do like to watch that show.”

We have been speaking of spiritual things a lot this trip, and Mom is now beginning to listen with interest and even ask questions.    She says that she is not really a spiritual person.    I wonder what she defines as spiritual, but do not ask.    But she goes on, “ever since Dad died, I am interested in seeing the world differently.”    I had told her to continue to talk to Dad, whenever she feels like it.   She says she is talking to Dad a lot now.    I told her that when she most misses him, when a warm wave of sadness suddenly envelops her, it is because  Dad is there with her with his arms around her.    It is precisely because Dad is there that she is thinking of him so intently, and she begins to cry softly and says,  “You know, I almost thought that myself sometimes.”     I told her that Dad is there always in my heart and I speak to him each morning.    In my bathroom, I have hung a great photo of him playing golf  and I talk to him when I am washing my face and brushing my teeth at night.   Whenever I want to see him, I go in their and sit with his photo and remember him.    Sometimes when I am walking around the nearby golf course I see him swing a club or wave at me.     I don’t miss him these days.     I feel like I am closer to him now than when he was alive and living so far away.      We had both been so busy with our own separate lives, but now he is totally apart of mine.

A funny moment had happened in church that seemed significant.    There is a part of the service where members get up and talk “news and notes.”    A woman got up to invite everyone to a farewell party for long time parishioners who were moving to be closer to their children in another state.     She said, “I personally think this move is strange, isn’t it the point that children move away forever from their parents?”     Sam  retorted, “I suppose that depends on your parenting skills!”   I burst out laughing.     Sam did not continue and I sat wondering if, he meant that proper parenting skills prepare children and make them independent and they are supposed to move away forever, like birds from a nest, or that good parents create such nourishing environments that children want to stay close,  parents and children remaining interdependent.       I am still pondering this, from the karmic, spiritual evolution of the spirit perspective.     Did my mother do a better job at the true goals of parenting or did I?

For the spiritual life, one must share oneself fully, passing on all that one has learned.  Bodhisattva and all that…sharing discoveries and and caring for and serving others with kindness and compassion, without judgment and without need for reward, surely that is easiest to learn with one’s own children first.

But families are part of the passing show, and they can create conditioning that cause us to suffer.    They encourage attachment, desire, judgment, aversion, liking and disliking, pleasure and pain.    Even the best intentions can nourish or harm us, encourage us or limit us. And everything we do leads to more karma.

Years ago when my youngest son had graduated from high school and was going off to college in Boston, I asked my parents if they wanted me to move to their small town in the southwest, to be near to them.     I could feel that my father’s physical body was beginning to wind down and thought they might soon need me.     But, my mother’s immediate response was a surprise.    She had a dramatic and totally negative knee-jerk reaction to my heartfelt suggestion, so much that my father’s strong hands began to shake.    Her mouth went up at the corners and her eyes sparkled in delight at she claimed her assertive role and said, “never, you can’t come live with us!”    In retrospect, perhaps  her reaction was due to what she had been hearing about the large numbers of adult children moving back home with parents.     Surely the impression was that she was not going to be taken advantage of in that way.     I was traveling a lot and had a good  income and savings, was teaching Yoga and thought I could perhaps develop a small studio in their little town.    So her reaction stunned me.    Of course, I realized that karmically, I had no need to make this move.

We all know that we must not harm anyone or anything.  But more than not harming we need to give up all selfishness and the idea that we need only take care only of our self and our happiness.   It doesn’t work to only concern one’s self with one’s needs, desires and happiness. It is always self defeating; it merely ties us in knots.   Self-centeredness never gets us very far and often denies us true happiness.    It makes us grow old, selfish and greedy and remain superficial in our relationships.    My greatest happiness has come from my being willing to give up everything and allow change to unfold.

I thank my children for increasing my capacity  to give fully and love unconditionally.    The birth of my first son taught me that the amount of one’s happiness is proportional to the amount of one’s self-giving.    My children have opened my heart in a way that no Yoga technique or Spiritual experience has been able to replicate.    An open heart changes one’s life forever.     Becoming a mother twice was God’s gifts to me and they had both a specific goal and affect.      I had my first child because I needed unconditional love in my life.     And I had my second son to show me I needed to share my love and happiness more widely with others.

I can say without a doubt that Motherhood has commanded my greatest teachings in this life and that relationships continue to hold my greatest tests.


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