Memory is a weird thing . . . so are emotions. The saying goes, “April showers bring May flowers.” But, when May rolls around every year, I kind of feel that April showers don’t bring May flowers . . . they bring May mud (I know it doesn’t quite rhyme, but mercy abounds for those of us who are not poets). May is the month my family and I remember my sister Maria, as it holds both her birthday, the day she left earth for eternity . . . and today, Mother’s Day.
I woke up today to the noise of my tiniest ready for breakfast, and as I rolled over to hop out of bed, I found my oldest snuggled up next to me. I guess I was so tired last night that I didn’t even notice her sneak into our bed in the middle of the night. I started my day with a heart and home full; however, there was a little unsettled part in my heart knowing that many women dread the silence they awaken to on Mother’s Day. My own mother’s home will be full of laughter today as we all gather to celebrate her, but she will feel the uneasiness one senses when waiting for the last of the party to arrive before commencing a celebration. Today, for so many, is like a megaphone to the silence; a spotlight on the empty spaces. If you find yourself there today, bracing for all the smiling photos that will flood your Instagram feed, prayers for peace and grace abound.
I had an experience the other day in which my own uneasy feelings about the month of May and God’s goodness collided. My preschool aged daughter, Eiley, thoroughly enjoys school days. She’s a social butterfly and quite keen on learning. I am convinced, however, that her affinity for school has something to do with wardrobe, as she is allowed to wear one of her “fancy dresses” reserved normally for school or church. This past week, she pulled a polka dot dress off a hanger and brought it to me. It’s a dress that has been hanging in her closet for sometime, but until this week, it’s always been too big. I’ve never really wanted it to fit her anyway. It is a dress that belonged to Maria.
I can’t quite put into words what I felt seeing my daughter in that dress. I was uneasy at first – could I really feel happy looking at that dress? But with the smile beaming across my daughter’s face, how could I not be full of joy? And yet, she was in a dress that represented such a deep sadness for me. All of these emotions were colliding, but somehow in that moment, a little bit of peace enveloped me. “God,” I thought, “You even breathe new life into little polka dot dresses.”
My mind knows that newness of life is at work in roots buried deep underground, but my heart feels the messiness of the topsoil. There’s a piece of me, the “I want to fix it” part, that tends to rush past the mud to celebrate spring’s new bulbs. But, my heart tells me there’s something for me, and for you, that can only be found in the mud. I suspect May will always be a “muddy month” of sorts for me. Maybe you feel that Mother’s Day will always be "Muddy Day" for you. We’re all traversing the human journey together, and I don’t think muddy should be avoided (or necessarily can be, for that matter). This month feels messy, but it serves as a prophetic reminder of the kingdom coming in which God will make all things new. The month of May reminds me of my own vulnerability, of my own mortality, and compels me to journey with others - broken by sin but enfolded in God’s great mercy - toward heaven’s eternal shore.
Will you join me?