“Gratitude practice is useful because it turns the mind in such a way that it enables you to live into life or, more accurately, to die into life. Having access to the joy and wonderment of life is the antidote to feelings of scarcity and loss. It allows you to meet life’s difficulties with an open heart.” Philip Moffitt
Today my family grieves the loss of my mother. She died on Friday, and will be missed by many, especially my dad. The relationship between my mother and I has been a journey of “strength and struggle.” Brené Brown came up with this phrase, and I lean into it. The multiple textures in life are encompassed in this idea of “strength and struggle”… light and dark… beauty and scars. Those that knew us well know the contrast between these two worlds in our relationship, and probably most relationships for that matter.
I want to focus on the strengths… the treasures I intend to pass on to my children. I wish I could tell her in person. I hope she is looking over my shoulder as I type.
Today I am thankful for:
1. My mother’s love of learning. She was the director of the public library in her small, East Texas town for 15 years. Anyone in Crockett can tell you of my mother’s passion for books, access to technology, and honoring the past. Over her years, her vision transformed the little library into a central meeting place. Various murals of Texas history and Winnie the Pooh will be a comforting reminder of her influence.
2. My mother’s prayer shawl ministry. Over the past week, I have had a number of people come up to me and tell me about the beautiful shawl my mother prayerfully created for them when they were ill. She prayed over every stitch of almost 50 prayer shawls. Some have lost loved ones, but have a shawl to gently remind them that someone cares, and that they are not alone.
3. My mother’s love of music. When I was in elementary school, I decided to play the flute. My parents had little money to spare because my dad is a preacher. In those days, some preachers even got paid in canned goods. That did not stop them from scrimping and saving so they could buy my flute and piccolo. They sacrificed other financial priorities so that I could gain a musical education. Music is a gift that I cherish as I continue to play my flute and sing.
4. My father’s love for my mother. Over the past couple of weeks I am honored to have witnessed my father’s devotion to my mom. When I was with them at the hospital, I felt as if I was stepping into a sacred space as my father tenderly and compassionately cared for her every need and desire. He slept little and rarely left her side. In fact, for her last three nights, he held her hand as she slept. He modeled for me what it is to love deeply… even to the very last breath. I am grateful to share these precious memories with my father.
I am sad and tired and overflowing with gratitude. God walks alongside (2 Cor. 3: 1-5). We do not feel alone.