5th Sunday of Easter
I was chatting with Greer the other day as I was processing how to preach on Mother’s Day. What am I given to share? Where is the inspiration? – nothing is coming to mind, to my spirit! when I am so worn out from doing this shelter-in-place thing as a pastor and as a mother. And I have to work on Mother’s Day!
And Greer was like, “well, talk about that.” My child, instructing me on how to preach a Mother’s Day sermon. Perfect.
I could almost hear Tom saying, “Thank God!” Sorry Tom.
This parenting thing is a challenge during a lock-down.
Trying to convince your 14-yr-old that it is still important to keep a schedule and get up before 2pm; that school is a privilege and even though grading is a bit more nebulous, learning is still an important part of becoming more of who he is; that yes, even though you probably aren’t carrying the virus, and maybe your friends aren’t, we are still responsible to the more vulnerable in our community to stay at home until suitable medical applications surface.
Yes, This parenting thing is a challenge during a lock-down. Doing it with grace and aplomb, well, that would require Divine intervention!
Good thing scripture is filled with images of God-as-parent.
The problem comes when we have a distorted view of what it means that God is parent to us. Because, if we are made in God’s likeness, God’s image, made through Jesus, sustained by the Spirit of God, we can know that this Divine light is imprinted into our very genetic makeup.
I would like to focus on one component of this:
the role of mitochondrial DNA (mtDNA). It is present in all human beings, and can only be passed to children by their mothers. The types of mitochondrial DNA variants that are shared delineate a maternal haplogroup, and are a powerful tool for tracing lineage. While I share roughly 50% of my father’s DNA, I do not carry the Y chromosome, so do not have a paternal haplogroup. It is not as easy to trace paternal lines because the Y chromosome skips the information-sharing step – excepting for a tiny segment on its tip.
I find it interesting that mtDNA contains 37 of its own genes and provides energy and functioning proteins to every cell – and is only found on the X chromosome. Mothers provide the growing space, nutrition – inside and out – and contribute to the functioning of growing human beings from the very smallest portion of our DNA to their graduation and beyond.
None of this can occur, of course, without that person who carries the Y chromosome. And I do not mean to insinuate that one is inherently stronger or better than the other. And not everyone who possess two Xs can or do make new human beings, or are inclined or well suited to do so.
Also interesting? My daughter made the observation that in the majority of Disney so-called fairytales the mother is absent and the evil force is a distorted, malevolent woman. Curious that. Many of us have a complicated relationship with our mother. Some of us consider her our closest friend, and others of us are estranged from our mother. Still some lost our mother too early. Whatever the case, all of us exist because our mother walked the earth.
Julian of Norwich said, “Thanking is a true inward knowing, gratitude, a true understanding of who we really are. With awe we orient ourselves toward God, enjoying and thanking with our real selves.”
Mother’s Day is about recognizing those who nurtured and continue to nurture us. It is about being thankful for that which we have, and for some, about grieving that which we don’t.
So I’d like to offer up a time to be mindful of both. To enter grief and follow through with gratitude to understand our true selves – that aspect of being that is Divine, God-like, the inner strength that is truly human because we all possess an X chromosome irrespective of whether we can or do pass another one on. That mitochondrial DNA that provides energy and life to us down to the infinitesimal cell.
Take a breath. Breathe in the oxygen that is carried to the cells and metabolized by your mtDNA.
Breathe out the excess and used up bits that threaten to be toxic to your system.
Consider the disappointment you experienced at the hand of your mother. Or perhaps it was real abuse, physical or emotional stones thrown at you, pelting, unrelenting to the point of near death. Or maybe a mothering figure presence was absent. Look at that loss. See it for what it is – lost. Notice your reaction. How do you feel? Welcome this grief until it is ready to leave for a time. [you may pause this recording if you need more time to sit with your grief.]
When you are ready, think of the person who seemed to always be there for you, care for you, nurture you. How do you feel remembering her? Perhaps it is a sense of security, of love, of joy? Welcome that joy.
Name the pieces of love, the bits of joy. Layer them.
Relish them. Be grateful.
Notice how, with each thanksgiving, you are moved toward an inner sense of truth, of right-ness. Examine the Divine in it, in you.
How do you respond to God in it all?
How do you respond to your true self in your gratitude?
Now permit the light of God’s love and right-ness that penetrates the deepest parts of you, yield to that marvelous light so it may draw out the darkness – as the heavens opened to Stephen’s prayer, allow the light to carry you straight into the arms of God.
Be thankful. Be you. A marvelous lightness of being.