Mother’s Day. I could feel my cynicism about the whole thing. The predictable Facebook and Instagram posts of the cards, flowers, chocolates, breakfasts in bed and smiles; some capturing the rightful and genuine celebration of women who tirelessly spend themselves on their children, while others unwittingly an attempt to show the world how valued they are, or how good they are at valuing others..
Half of me wanted to engage with some of the pretentious fun; posting filtered pictures of the sweet handmade cards my daughters had given me, pretending that this wasn’t going to be a difficult day for me. Yet, as I thought about my own mother, and the mix of feelings this day also brought for her, I began to realise I may not be alone in the paradoxical emotional experience I was having.
I thought of a friend, whose child is too young to really bless her but whose husband will be busy working. Another, who has been a carer for her own mother since she was a teenager, and another who lost her mother when she was 13. I remembered the countless women who long for their own children but can’t conceive. The mothers who have lost children. The men effected by the same pain. The mothers who have made mistakes and whose children don’t want to or can’t see them. The mothers who ‘have it all’ but still feel empty. The children who’ve been hurt by their mothers or abandoned, or abused. Those who’ve been separated by war, famine and disasters. The list seemed endless.
As I shared these thoughts in prayer, self-pity and despair rapidly faded away, and I was reminded of the image of a mother hen gathering her chicks under her wings.
This image comes from a passage in Matthew’s gospel that talks about Jesus’ longing to gather Jerusalem’s children together. As I re-read it, it echoed this sense of brokenness and love simultaneously. Following a harsh rebuking of Pharisaic hypocrisy, and an outrage of the rejection of prophets who have come before ,and of Jesus Himself, He (Jesus) still declares his love and longing for Jerusalem;
‘How often I’ve ached to embrace your children, the way a hen gathers her chicks under her wings, and you wouldn’t let me’.
I was reminded that here is clearly a God who is able to not only relate to the paradoxical emotional onset a day like Mother’s Day can trigger, but who has a true mother’s heart. After all that Jerusalem had done and was continuing to do, Jesus unashamedly and achingly pronounces love and welcome. I was struck that our God longs to tenderly gather on a dramatic scale all the Jewish nation; in their wanderings and from their mistakes and blindness, to offer each soul an intimate sense of belonging, protection and refuge.
I realised that on a day that is happy for some, painful for others and for every emotion in between, His longing is the same.
Therefore I pray that all may sense peace tomorrow in the call from the God of tenderness, might and perseverance, who has a perfect mother’s heart. Indeed everyone is invited. Happy Mother’s Day.