I’ve written a little bit about motherhood before, and I am always amazed at how this holiday continually knocks me off my feet. Motherhood isn’t for sissies; remembering isn’t for the faint of heart; life isn’t for the easily cowed.
I watched a movie yesterday, one a friend recommended some time ago. I didn’t know it then, but this might be the most perfect Mother’s day movie I have ever seen. Pray the Devil Back to Hell shows what happens when a group of mothers got together to protest for peace during the civil war in Liberia. The documentary chronicles how these women, Christian and Muslim alike, came together to pray, worship, and disrupt the cycles of violence. The width and depth and scope of their protest is astonishing. The personal costs were staggering. But they all got the chance to say, when their children asked them what role they played in the conflict, that they were ambassadors for peace. They did it for their children; they did it for the children of their neighbors.
The scene that stood out to me was one in which the women gathered around a candle-lit vigil, praying that the president and the rebel troops would agree to come to a peace table together. You could see the small children, clinging to their mother’s skirts, watching them push the candles into the dirt, the holy process of both surrendering to God in prayer while firmly believing that the world is not right. The children watched, and they were being taught every moment by their mothers, that another world is possible.
My own parents loved me into the kingdom of God. My mother especially, she taught me that God speaks to us, all the time. It was such a living, breathing, faith that I grew up watching, the most normal, all-encompassing spirituality. I learned that life is hard, and that beauty is to be celebrated. I watched with eyes wide open as my own mother planted her candles in the dirt, as she taught me both that things were not right, that there was always something to be hoped for. Long before I learned the words in Bible college, my mother taught me about kingdom come.
Now, I have my own daughter. What is she learning from me? I have some hopes, my own flames I set off in the night. That there are things more important than security, a yard to play in, friends who only look and think like us. But more than that, I want to stake my flag in both worlds at once. I want to never forget that Jesus can be found all over my neighborhood; I never want to forget that he is found in the face of my daughter.
The world is not all right, and the mothers know this. Let us keep on teaching, through our words and actions, that another world is possible.
To my own mum, who gave me the keys to the kingdom:
thanks for teaching me, every day, what it means to hold a candle-lit vigil against the evils of our world.
Happy Mother’s Day.