It tickled me to see how joyfully The Matriarch held court at her 92nd birthday celebration yesterday.
Granted, she wielded a cane…not a scepter. And she greeted the gathered minions with a cocktail…not a royal decree. Still, there’s no doubt that our Mom absolutely ruled the room last evening…doling out generous doses of her sparkling personality along with her now-legendary allocations of love.
As I looked about, I was struck by another grace as well: Of the 20 or so of us gathered to celebrate, almost half were new faces – they wouldn’t have been on-hand a decade ago, marking her 82nd birthday. A couple of grandsons-in-law have been added to the mix…and great-grandchildren, too. Plus, some out-of-town relatives have moved back “in town”…and others brought friends with them.
All of which delighted Mom. “The more the merrier” has long been her motto…and so our family celebrations always seem to have welcomed participants from hither and yon. That’s just how things roll…under the reign of Georgia Rose.
I was particularly attuned to that grace yesterday, I think…because of where I’d spent time the day before. As part of the contingent who took part in the Kairos reunion at Menard on Saturday, I met inmates who shared stories of growing up under far less inviting circumstances than I enjoyed.
One in particular had very little good to say about his mother. ‘I didn’t learn love from her,’ he said. ‘No…she taught me how to steal. And how to avoid the police.’
Mothers have choices, you see. Perhaps that ought to be obvious. But it’s not a bad thing to be reminded of the extraordinary blessing that comes from being raised in a loving family – even if it’s an occasionally imperfect one.
Sunday’s Gospel reading added a sprinkle of spice to this insight. Luke recounts the legalistic trap set for Jesus by a group of Sadducees. They want to get his take on a bizarre hypothetical – how to determine the “afterlife status” of a woman married and widowed to seven brothers.
As I’m hearing the hypothetical, I couldn’t help but think how dysfunctional that family’s reunions would have been.
And then, in Jesus’ reply, I noticed a promise that I could more easily sink my teeth into. Those who are deemed worthy to attain to the coming age, he says, ‘they are the children of God, because they are the ones who will rise.’
Yes, I realized: This is precisely the talent I saw at work in Mom last evening – a talent she shares with virtually everyone who comes near: She professes and affirms that we are indeed the children of God – ‘not God of the dead, but of the living.’
And thanks in no small part to her lifetime of faith and witness, we all rise.
Let us pause now…to recall that we are in the presence of the Holy & Merciful One.