She turned 18 two weeks before I was born.
Her's hasn’t been an easy life. Still isn’t. But it’s been a life full of faith.
She had three boys and a girl, spaced about 14 months apart. Then she had a miscarriage, another daughter, another miscarriage, another daughter, and another son.
She was divorced after her first five children, remarried later for the final two. These are the basic facts, which tell nothing at all about her.
There are two primary elements to my mother’s life. She is an artist, and she is a believer.
She has followed her art throughout her life (I have a painting/calligraphy piece she did as a teen). The exploration of her artistic talents has been constant. It has placed food on her table and paid the rent, for nearly all of her life through paintings sold, lessons given, art traded. She went to college briefly, but most of her techniques have been self taught.
Her faith has been astonishing.
Once, when I was five, my father was away, hauling grain, 500 miles away. We had nothing to eat. She sat us down at the table. She told us the Lord would provide. She started to pray. A Canadian goose landed in the yard. We ate.
A few years ago she told me that she felt she was supposed to go on a mission trip to China, to tell people of God’s love. She had her passport. She had her bags packed.
“How much money do you have Mom?”
“You can’t go to China on that!”
“Sure I can. The Lord will give me all I need.”
“How much did the ticket cost you?”
“I didn’t buy one.”
“I don’t have one, But I’m sure it will all work out. A friend is going to drive up to San Francisco and I’ll find a way onto that plane.”
She did. She went to San Francisco. At the last moment someone had an emergency and gave her the ticket. She wandered around with others on the mission trip. People invited her into their homes, fed her, she told them about Jesus. Someone paid some sort of fee she needed on her return. It all worked out.
She still lives life one month at a time, with no clear idea how she will pay her bills, no certainty of where her food will come from, yet there is always something for her to eat, a place for her to live.
Then Jesus said to his disciples: "Therefore I tell you, do not worry about your life, what you will eat; or about your body, what you will wear. Life is more than food, and the body more than clothes. Consider the ravens: They do not sow or reap, they have no storeroom or barn; yet God feeds them. And how much more valuable you are than birds!...Consider how the lilies grow. They do not labor or spin. Yet I tell you, not even Solomon in all his splendor was dressed like one of these. If that is how God clothes the grass of the field, which is here today, and tomorrow is thrown into the fire, how much more will he clothe you, O you of little faith! And do not set your heart on what you will eat or drink; do not worry about it.
I do not know of anyone who has faith as strong as my mother’s.
She has been treated roughly. My father left her with five children to feed. Her second husband kicked her out of his home, threw her clothes and paintings and brushes into the front yard. Yet she visited him constantly, cared for him until he died a few years ago. She is a cancer survivor. She grieves for her children and grandchildren who have wandered far from our Lord’s flock. She is a gentle soul with a gentle heart.
She says she gave me to the Lord when I was born, dedicating her first born her true master. I believe that act of faith, fifty years ago, is what set me on a path which has kept me returning to the Lord.
Once, when I was doing a bit of the hippy thing, hitch hiking, reading Brautigan and Castenada and Gibbons, she painted me a picture.
There is a carousel horse, flying over the waves, stormy waves. It flies, yet is tethered to the world, circling a light house.
(Click to Enlarge)
She said nothing about the painting. She simply told me I would understand it soon enough.
Over the next few weeks it slowly came to me. I felt a grieving in my heart, an ache from being away from a close relationship to my Lord. I sat looking at the painting, wondering. What was it about the image that was working its way into my heart?
Suddenly I just knew I was the horse. I am a creation, a made thing, a thing of beauty set free from a spinning walkway, from the ordinary life, that I was created to fly. But instead of flying free, or flying toward some goal, I was circling in the sky, over churning water. What was I circling? A darkened light house, its windows cracked, its guiding light was not shining in my life.
Suddenly I saw it. Over the light house, in the sky, the clouds formed the letters...
I knew what I was missing in my life.
My mother loves me very much. My mother has an intense faith which shines through darkness, through tears, and trouble. She has no material wealth. She has a car that runs only sporadically. She has no home, no real possessions except a faith that sustains her day by day, year by year, decade by decade.
Oh I love her so.
I know she prays for me constantly. She has prayed for me when I have wandered. She has prayed for me when I have stumbled. She has rejoiced when I have flung myself toward the Lord. She prayed for me when my heart was ripped from my chest by the death of my first child. She prayed for me when I ached for new children (it was her prayers while massaging a missionary’s feet which led her to the woman who was rescuing my children from Haiti). She has prayed for my marriage when things have been rocky, and when things have been blessed. My mother is a constant in my life.
I only speak to her every few months or so. But she is always there.
Oh... my heart is so full when I think of her. It seems silly, a grown man, fifty years old, getting misty-eyed over his mother.
She is a gentle soul who has suffered and rejoiced greatly, deeply.
Happy Mother’s Day Mom. I love you.