I think of this as my second Mother’s Day. Last year at this time we knew we were expecting a child – eagerly, joyfully, and only the least bit fearfully. Last Mother’s Day we had blissfully accepted our stewardship of this blossoming life, with no idea how our hearts would break learning of our son’s broken heart — nor that his life would be filled with trials, suffering, and a puzzling uncertainty uniquely his own. We envisioned the good ahead – the accomplishments, delights, and laughter (of which we have an abundance)…but never the suffering. Parents expect to suffer for their children, but to watch their own child suffer? For that, there is no preparation.
We have had Faith. We have plead prayers. But it was months after Walter’s first surgery, when I was truly able to recognize the intercessions Mary had made for our family in these times. As a mother I naturally looked to Mary, but it took until Holy Week for me to cleave to her.
So humbly and so innocently Mary accepted mothering the Son of God. She holds a unique place among us – through great responsibility, quiet reverence, and a knowing of suffering only a mother may know.
Watching her child crucified, we are told very little about Mary – her thoughts and words. We know she was there: enduring, watching, and sorrowful too, as her own flesh suffered death for man’s sins. Those tiny feet and hands now crudely disfigured by nail and cross; that sweet head she had kissed bloody and worn. And though her soul may later rejoice at being saved, at having known Him, at continually loving Him, her world for those six hours is engulfed in a shattering ruthless ache. How eagerly she would have taken up His cross and suffered his death – if only to save her son. How circular that in this suffering He saved her?
But in our own earthly way, all mothers know this ache.
It is the ache that keeps us up at night when our baby finally sleeps all the way through, the ache that pricks when our toddler toddles and hits his head, and when our teen pulls out of the driveway for the first time. It is the breathless, sleepless, restless, gut-wrenching dagger in our hearts every time we fear our child will face some terrible pain.
And in her reverent way, Mary knows this ache.
It is the questioning, hating, deafening ache that leaves your own heart crumpled on the floor of a hospital room as machines breath your sons lungs and pump his little heart after surgery. The ache as he lays with eyes closed in a bassinet under a heat lamp, black and blue – nearly unrecognizable as your child.
Mary knows this ache, too.
The Mother of God, yes, but a mother nonetheless. Carefully chosen by God to be just that – a mother – to our Lord in human flesh. How beautiful is motherhood that God himself chose a woman to bear and raise Jesus Christ? How essential are her gifts that in order to experience humanity, our Lord sought a sinner to keep and hold him on Earth? How humbling.
As our annual celebration of mothers passes – a reflection on her gifts and her worth – find solace that our own Holy Mother knows a mother’s heart in all things both big and small.