After playing piano for a year and a half at a Catholic Church (though I myself am not Catholic), I picked up a thing or two about Mary, the mother of Jesus. Not that I didn’t know her story before. Mostly I thought of her at Christmas when the preacher preaches the annual “Christmas Story” and the angel tells her she would bear a son. We see her everywhere. She adorns the nativity set as a porcelain figurine, with a look of angelic, solemn peace. I am no mother, but I know a few of them, and something tells me she wasn’t always so angelic and peaceful. Even Jesus, being the perfect child that He was, probably gave her enough worry and anxiety to keep her at least slightly stressed out. Although we know in our hearts, she existed, it’s difficult to relate her to today’s reality. We keep her on a shelf. It’s easy to dismiss the real struggles, worry, and immense love she felt as a mother.
I heard several stories yesterday that were not so easy to dismiss. “Story Corps” is an organization that finds and allows people to tell their personal, emotional story. Yesterday was a Mother’s Day special. One son said to his single mother that every Christmas made him feel like a king, yet looking back, he realizes how completely broke they were. His mother explained that she never took a single sick day all year long. If she was sick, she worked anyway. At Christmas she was paid for those days and then she shopped at the thrift store in the rich part of town for presents. She added with a laugh, “That’s why I never told you that there was a Santa Clause. Cuz I didn’t want to give no man the credit for what I did.”
Another mother told the heart breaking story of watching her son be crushed by a car after it swerved off the road and flipped, landing right on top of her little boy playing in the front yard. The paramedic pulled her aside later and said, “Ma’am, I’m not supposed to tell you this, but your son was already dead when we got to him.” She then broke down in tears and explained how much that meant to her because she couldn’t stand the thought of him being in pain and needing her when she could do nothing.
That story made me think of Mary when she lost her son. The emotions in which these stories were told, right out of the mothers’ mouths, made me wonder about the pain and grief Mary bore. Can there be any greater grief than a mother losing her child?
So today, on this Mother’s Day, I am thinking about ALL the mothers I know, past and present. Because I cannot begin to fathom the amount of love, sacrifice, strength, and grace they hold in their hearts.