That's me in my mother's lap and my big sister Grace on the left (sadly my middle sister Eunice got cut out of this shot... sorry Eunice!), circa 1975. I wish I had a better photo of her from my childhood. My parents were poor immigrants from Korea and my mom barely spoke English when they arrived in the U.S. She studied at one of the top universities in Korea and left everything, her family, her friends, her native language and culture behind to come to the States with my father and build a new life for our family.
My sisters and I had no idea how poor we were growing up because she made our home feel so abundant with her creativity, resourcefulness and sacrifice. I remember her collecting every penny, nickel and dime in a big jar, sewing our clothes with patterns from McCall's or buying them from garage sales, working in a flower shop to help support the family. We had no idea at the time how lonely she must have felt, giving birth to and raising three daughters in a foreign land.
Now she is 80, more frail each time I see her. Many of you had the chance to meet her at the Celebration of a New Journey service back in January. My heart is full of gratitude for the life she has lived, the love she gave, her sincere faith in God that she deposited in me.
Our lives have been shaped by the presence (or absence) of our parents and the lives they have lived, their gifts and their weaknesses. Lisha shared this poem "Bless My Mother's Body" by Marie Howe, read by Padrig O'Tauma here. He writes, "I think the poet here is speaking about all the ways that we carry people who have tried to love us; and maybe the person succeeded, or maybe they didn’t, but nonetheless, we carry their story into our own surviving."
This morning, I'm thinking about the prayers and hopes and fears and sorrow from our intercessions during service on Mother's Day yesterday that revolved around our parents: giving thanks to God for mothers, praying for new and expectant parents as they bring a child into the world in this time, grieving the loss of mothers, fathers and grandparents, praying for parents with cancer and elderly parents who do not have long in this world.
There is a Love that is so wide and long and high and deep that it surpasses knowledge (Ephesians 3:18) and encompasses each and every one of us and those we hold most dear. It is that Love that holds us in this vulnerable and uncertain moment, like my mother is holding me in that photo. I pray that you may feel it holding you and your loved ones, whatever today may hold for you.