Sometimes I guilt myself right out
of joy. Like the surprise of an iridescent
butterfly from an unsightly cocoon,
who would expect this shimmering
show in morning sunlight?
Eyes are trained on Northwest firs
framed in blue, frosted feeders,
feathered presents hidden among
I’ve held my breath, wondering.
Did my mother ever ponder stilling
herself, take a moment with the
birds in her California garden? Gaze
restful at morning fog carried
in on marine air? Was she ever at ease
in her troubled life, as she parented
I will never know.
I cannot ring her up to ask, there
is no email to send, no letter to write.
She is gone, stolen far too soon.
I consider this feigned injustice.
How wildly unfair I should gather
such beauty as surely she never did,
then abandon my thoughts. No.
I will not leave reason to balance the
ledger, steal this away, too. Feathered
hum of heat, filigreed pane, frosty view.
I drink in sleeping green, hear her
whisper over my shoulder,
Breathe in the brilliant morning.
Surrender second guesses and leave
logic to the philosophers.
I startle to the present, welcome with
wonder this gilt gift, nothing to ponder
but my thanks.
–From my new book “Hearts on Pilgrimage-Poems&Prayers”
I share this poem coincidentally on Mothering Sunday, an observance in the U.K. to honor mothers. Mothering Sunday began as an explicitly religious event of the 16th Century, with no connection to mothers at all. The word “mothering” referred to the “mother church”, which is to say the main church or cathedral of the region. It became a tradition that, on the fourth Sunday of Lent, people would return to their mother church for a special service. This pilgrimage was apparently known as “going a-mothering”, and became something of a holiday event, with domestic servants traditionally given the day off to visit their own families as well as their mother church.
If we find ourselves returning to our “mother” church, we may similarly find ourselves returning to Christ, the bringer of joy and restoration in our lives, regardless of our life experience with our own mothers. That was the intent with my poem, to mirror God’s grace to us, His care and love that he so lavishly pours out on us as a parent. Our days are all gift.
Unwrap yours today, friend, and receive it with joy.