May 7, 2009

Mother's Day Remembrance of Love and Beauty

--Celtic Knot of Motherhood, from

2009 will be my sixth Mother's Day celebration without my mother.

In addition, my grandmothers and (ex) mother-in-law, a woman I never met, are also deceased. I am grateful for the "play mothers" who have filled in with a love and concern that go beyond short phone conversations and holiday gifts.

"Charm is deceptive, and beauty is fleeting; but a woman who fears the Lord is to be praised." --Proverbs 31:30

Love and beauty are two of the qualities most associated with what most of us consider to be feminine. My mother's love was expressed to me as a child when she taught me to help her in her rose garden and took the time to carefully explain how she cared for the plants. She loved the color and fragrance of the roses, and I came to love them, too. Her love was gentle, but contagious. Whenever I see a vibrant, healthy rose bush or a dozen roses in a vase, I think of her.

M. Scott Peck wrote that love is the willingness to extend self to nurture another person's spiritual growth. Consider that the next time someone says they love you. This is the clearest definition of love I have ever read. Whether I am considering the love of God or human love, this definition clarifies the truth that love may begin with a feeling but never ends there.

I enjoy looking at photographs of my mother as a young woman. She was beautiful. I can't say there was a single characteristic that made her beautiful. It was the unique combination of all of her features and mannerisms that made her lovely. When she died in 2003 from complications related to multiple sclerosis, she was a quadriplegic, having lost the use of her arms and legs. Although many years had passed since she could walk in the rose garden or hang laundry from the clothesline in our backyard, I could still see her beauty and appreciate it.

What makes beauty beautiful? It's something worth considering because when I shut down the "mass media-consumptionist" idea of beauty--the term "beauty supply store" has always struck me as awkward and even a little frightening--I know in my heart beauty is fleeting, as the Scripture says. It's fleeting because it's not a "one time got it-forever I have it" quality.

Beauty is recreated daily and hourly and minute by minute in what we chose to think, love, look to, and embrace. I think that outlook on life is what made my mother beautiful. Her curiosity, her skills of observation, her love of God and goodness stayed strong through all of the changes life brought.

Current, conventional wisdom says time plays big and little tricks with our memories. I don't doubt this is correct to a degree, but I am grateful and happy for the memories that live on through the passage of time.

Happy Mother's Day.

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