This is the time of year in which I am endlessly entertained with bluebirds nesting and now hatching out another generation of young. Papa birds are easy to identify with their brilliant colors. It was Henry David Thoreau that said a bluebird looks as though he “carries the sky on his back.” While he gets all the attention, it is the mamma bird that really counts. Without her there would be no eggs and therefore no young.
One year one of our birdhouses was a home to a mama squirrel and her young. From does tending to the fawns, to herons guarding their nests perched at the top of sycamores, may God bless all the good mammas in this world!
Over the years I have known some wonderful mothers. One mother I knew would arise in the dark hours of the morning and see to it that my sister, brothers and I awoke to a crackling blaze in the fireplace. While we were not the wealthiest family in Putnam County, we ate like royalty. Biscuits were her specialty, but she was not bad with fried chicken or mashed potatoes either. Everyone in our family called her Nannan – my grandmother. She died just over eleven years ago and I still miss her, but she still shows up in a sermon illustration here and there.
Amy’s mother died about two weeks before my grandmother, and she too was a “mother of mothers.” I called her Ruby when I was a newly minted husband as well as an official member of the family but within a year or two I simply called her mamma like everyone else. I was her “preacher-man” but I also was her son. When we would visit her she would busy herself in the kitchen frying peach pies and singing old hymns off-key but with all her heart.
There is a mother I know who lives down Pea Ridge Rd, in the eastern part of Putnam County. Every month or two I join my siblings along with our own children to return to the place we still call home and share in one another’s laughter, job woes and boast of our children with this special mother. She is my father’s wife, and we affectionately call her Diane. She has devotedly “mothered” us for more than a quarter of a century!
Along with bluebirds and squirrels and grandmothers, I am particularly grateful for the mother of my children and the love of my life. Although our nest is empty, she is still the matriarch in charge and the one ready to listen and to love without question and without reservation.
There have been other mothers in my life – Sunday school teachers, deacons and teachers – but Nannan, Diane and especially Amy have been the best. Is it any wonder that loving maternal images come to mind when we think of the self-giving love of God? It was Isaiah who prophesized: As a mother comforts her child, so I will comfort you; you shall be comforted in Jerusalem (Isaiah 66:13).
Mothers also have to negotiate through our anxieties. When we were children, the mom’s kissed away our “boo-boos” (and let’s face it, dads are generally lousy at this!); and moms would tell us that we don’t have to be afraid of the dark. But what about when we grow up? We still need these mothers in our life to speak assurances and provide comfort. This Sunday take time to share with a mother in your life your gratitude for God’s gift in her. This church is full of such mothers, so the task should be an easy one.
Grace and Peace, Greg