But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control; against such there is no law – Galatians 5:22-23
At this end of things I have good memories of my childhood. Love filled out home. We were validated as was anyone who stepped foot in our door.
I remember having a lot of fun with my parents. The living room was my oyster and I played make believe, puzzles and discovered interesting TV shows like Lost in Space, Gulliver’s Travels, Journey to the Center of the Earth and a host of other family friendly fare. I can also remember playing records in our living room and twirling around to the music.
There is a scene in the movie You’ve Got Mail with Meg Ryan’s character, Kathleen Kelley and her mother. She has a memory when she looks at the picture behind her store’s cash register. She is about five years old and twirling with her mother holding her hand. The picture comes alive as she’s looking at it, and she sees herself twirling with her mother holding her hand high above her head. Then the mother let’s go and twirls with the little girl. The little girl was safe with her mother doing nothing but being her happy sweet self.
It never occurred to me that Mom would not enjoy playing along. I would ask and remember her watching me with a smile, or even join in when I asked. She would play whatever mother character there was, including the fairy God-mother.
I also used to enjoy a little game I invented. I would dot my skin with red ball point ink and ask my mother if it was blood or ink. If I had a little blood for some reason on my skin, I’d challenge her to figure it out. Mom always knew the difference between red ink and blood! More than that, she was willing to play along and connect over find fault and correct. I appreciate now that she refused to give into the temptation to turn me into a little adult, something she knew would be impossible for me to understand at that age and sought instead to connect with her inner child and play along with me. I thank you for that Mom!
When I moved to Boston a few years after college to work as a nanny for a family, I would call home to hear my mother’s voice and tell her stories to let her know I was okay. I also wanted her perspective at times, and even if she didn’t know how to counsel me, she always listened. That helped more than anything, and still does.
She also welcomed me home from first grade with a treat nearly every day. My brother was a little over a year old and she usually told me Richard fixed the brownies or wanted to buy me the roll of candy or whatever the treat of the day was. Mother was attempting to create an attachment between my brother and myself with that little experience. Richard became one of my best friends as an adult and remained so until the day he passed away almost twelve years ago.
When my sister came into the family, Mom arranged for us to share a room. I know it bonded us though we were ten years apart. My sister is a good researcher and a good resource for what she knows, and always willing to offer a perspective where it’s good, and I appreciate her today more because of our bond as sisters.
As for my father, she’s his support and love of his life. They are a team and have shown me in words and deeds how to love through hard times and great. The hard times are half as hard and the good times have been doubly great for the love she’s put into our family.
I also remember my mother being kind to other people always. She still is. She wouldn’t ever think of not picking up the telephone when someone called or ignore an email or communication. She might not have the time to talk to everyone a long time, but she responds always. But please don’t check in with her at once, we need her to be available to be our mother as well!
Mom opened up our home to other people as I was growing up. We enjoyed having company on a regular basis. My parents were missionaries in Brazil from 1963 to 1975. We lived in the New York City of Brazil. We didn’t just meet Brazilians, but got to know people from Germany, Japan, China, Indonesia, Spain, Latin America, England and Portugal to name a few countries. It was a veritable melting pot of exposure and experiences that broadened my understanding of how great God’s Kingdom is in breadth, understanding, mercy and hospitality.
In our home, people were treated as people with unique stories to hear, and we in turn had wonderful opportunities to share our own stories. When the time was right and fitting, one might hear a story about Jesus and his people.
Friendship was the key to reaching others for Jesus. It still is with my mother. It’s not a ploy, it’s honest love for the other person. It’s not manipulation for people always had a choice to walk away, but they’d always know they were loved when in mom’s presence, whether they accepted Jesus or not.
I recall the safety I felt in just being able to be myself during those times with my mother, and still feel so today.
I now understand that to remain this way is a key to openness towards God and loving others. Becoming responsible has nothing to do with letting go of being child-like, that is, the good and innocent part of human-ness. Rather, it is child-ishness that is to be grown out of. And as long as I breathe, I understand that there is a little more child-ishness that needs tending to and letting go that I might continue to grow towards my eternal goal of GodReflection.
Thank you Mom for your continued example in loving and keeping judgmentalism at bay. Please keep growing the way you are. You are helping me understand how to navigate my later years.
Thank you Jesus for giving me my mother and empowering her to live and love for you!