Tuesday, May 11, 2010

Will cannot be quenched against its will. -Dante Alighieri

Just this morning I was in my prayer pod (aka car) on the way to work and I was saying, "You may already know that I am struggling with food right now. I'd really like that to be changed. I know I've said I'd like the weight to just fall off. I know I've said I'd like to eat like Robin J. and look like her too. I know I've communicated quite clearly that I'd like to eat all I want and have none of the consequences...but today I'm ready for You, dear God, to give me willingness to eat what I'm supposed to eat, to exercise the way I'm supposed to eat, to work they way I must work."

And then I asked for the grace to accept the reality of my personality. I will always want to turn to food for comfort, to assuage boredom, to entertain, to console... I have wanted to pretend that I could eat well and behave well for a period of time (22 months once) and then I'd be "cured." Well, not so much. I prayed for acceptance of my compulsion so that I can learn to live with it instead of trying to pretend that I can actually purge it.

Suddenly I feel overwhelmed. Is that Faith leaving the building? Come back Faith! I need you!


I feel really good about this analogy that I used in my Mother's Day talk at church. So here it is:

I'm going to say a word, and you can close your eyes and just focus on whatever reaction you have to that word. The word is cat.

Some people hear that word and think of a dear pet, of affection, warmth, love, softness. Others feel anxiety because they are allergic to cats. Some feel stress because of that one night on the dark road...I tried to swerve! Still others feel apathy at the word, some feel envy, some feel resentment that they had to relinquish their pet when moving to a different apartment. And some of us feel fear. My good friend Jim is terribly frightened by cats. He has been attacked three times that I know of, and he has nightmares about cats.

The word "mother" is a lot like the word cat in that people react differently to it. The vast majority of us have a positive, loving reaction. A few feel loss, envy, sadness, anxiety, failure, resentment...and still fewer of us hear that word and feel fear. Whatever feelings we have as individuals on a day like Mother's Day, they tend to be powerful. It is important to realize that this is not a day of cookie cutter feelings and niceties. It is an important day for honoring women who have taught us and loved us, but it may also be a day of mourning for some of us.


I think it's a pretty good metaphor! I then went on to talk about the book by P.D. Eastman, Are You My Mother? and related the little bird's experience of learning from all whom he encounters. I shared several stories...so many I might be able to write a book! about mothers in my life. Cathy Davis taught me to sew and became my mother of sewing. She had 3 sons and I think I, as an interested girl, gave her the gift of motherhood via that teaching moment.

I talked about Mary Siegrist who was my mother of cooking because she explained why my egg whites would never form peaks and turn glossy. I mentioned Jeanine Bentz who has modeled so many aspects of motherhood for me, the most poignant being the incident in the car when her daughter called repeatedly for reassurance and instruction regarding her first day of college. After the 3rd phone call in 40 minutes Jeanine hung up the phone and said, "fly birdie, fly." What a powerful lesson and introduction into the phase of parenthood I was just beginning to face.

I mentioned my friend Carol Wawrychuk whose prayer and meditation practice inspires me and heals me. Growing up, I learned to pray, and the mother in my home spent a great deal of time on her knees behind closed doors. I felt like Martha whining to God about needing some help with the laundry and in the kitchen and with the children, and so I had some wounds. Carol helps me to see that even Marthas can make time for spiritual nurturing. Carol is my mother of spirituality and healing.

I talked about my friend Michelle Taylor who says, "I can't tonight, I'm spending the evening with my family." And although I don't like being her second choice, I love hearing that her family is a priority. That too has been healing to me.

Recently Michelle's daughter Grace said to me, "I wish my mom could cook like you, all she knows how to make is pasta!" Oh Grace, I've felt that way too! But let me and others be your mother of cooking and don't give up on your mother...she is my mother of optimism and striving for growth and improvement.

There's so much more...

Happy Mother's Day.