A Mother’s Trust

empty tomb

A few months ago, I found myself wondering how Mary must have felt at that wedding feast in Cana. A lot has happened between January and now and to be perfectly honest, I had almost forgotten what I’d written. But then, with a timing that only God can pull off, a dear friend emailed my own words back to me on Holy Thursday. My friend is newly married and now is the very happy stepmom to three teenage boys. And I have my two sons. The belief that God finds us worthy to trust us with raising these young men is staggering so what Mary faced would have been even more staggering.

I live for Triduum. I always have. But one of the sad realities of my divorce is that I rarely have my sons with me for Easter, simply the luck of the calendar. I was so very happy to know I would have them with me this year but sadly, there was drama and fighting right up to the door of church on Holy Thursday. As I sat in the pew, ready to elbow either one if they tried to continue their bickering, I found myself looking at the cross and asking Mary how she managed to get through those last few days of her son’s life. How did she find the strength to watch her boy marched to his cruel execution? How did she stand by his side to the very end? How did she not want to strangle his friends, who had become like family, but then abandoned him?

As it turned out, the answer was handed to me. Quite literally. My older son and I were asked shortly before the start of Mass to bring up the offertory gifts. Being Holy Thursday, that meant being at the end of the procession, after the sacramental oils which were brought in one by one. As I stood at the back of the church holding the ciborium, waiting for our turn to process in, all the drama, all the fighting, all the questions that had been clanging around inside me were suddenly silenced. As the quiet descended inside me, I realized that I held the answer to every question ever asked right there in my hands.

How did Mary find the strength to get through her son’s last few days?  She trusted God. From the moment of the Annunciation, from that first moment when she trusted God, God had worked the impossible in her life. As those 33 years passed, she watched Jesus become a man, saw the miracles he worked, and witnessed the way he challenged the Jewish establishment, she would have to trust God over and over and over again. But from the moment she held her newborn infant in the stable to the moment she held his broken corpse at the foot of the cross, she knew, if only with a mother’s intuition, that she held the answer to every question ever asked right there in her arms. In the darkness of Good Friday and the long silence of Holy Saturday, she trusted that God would work the impossible. She would not be disappointed.


The Mom Side


Being a mom with two boys, I read the story of the Wedding at Cana and I can’t help but wonder what was going through Mary’s head that day. She’d spent her life raising this boy to be a man and now she faced a defining moment in his life. Here he was stepping out into the world in a whole new way. Was she ready to let him go? Was she afraid of how society react? Was she proud? Did she wonder if there was more she should have taught him?

Last night my two guys got into a wrestling match and, forgetting how big they are now, I waded into the middle of it to try to break them up. The end result was that all three of us came dangerously close to crashing through the Christmas tree.  It was the end of long day at the end of long, stressful week with these two. I was never one that had a particular devotion to Mary and on days like yesterday, I really find myself asking if she ever went through this craziness.

Nadia Bolz-Weber often describes Mary as a badass. Anne Lamott writes about Mary as the mother of a teenage Jesus and pictures her walking behind Jesus with a stone clutched tightly in her hand, just in case he gets out of line. I love both of those depictions. But I get stuck thinking that Mary had something that I don’t – back up. When Jesus went missing at the temple, Joseph was there helping her look for him. And if he stepped out of line growing up, Joseph would have been there to straighten him out.

It gets very lonely sometimes, being a Mom without backup. My boys and I have been through a lot and that presents some pretty unique challenges to parenting. I have to carefully pick my battles and I do an awful lot of balancing. I have to be a hard ass about so many things: grades, homework, bedtimes, video games, being online, foul language, rude behaviors and the usual brotherly fisticuffs. And when they step out of line, there’s no one but me to play the heavy. I’m always afraid of being too harsh because I’m also the late night counselor and I don’t ever want them afraid to come to me. I have to be my own check and balance, a one-woman good cop/bad cop, and I can’t afford to make mistakes. I have an ever-running tally in my head of Good Mom Moments and Bad Mom Moments, which for someone with a tendency to be too hard on herself is not always a good thing to have.

When my kids are hurting, I look at Mary and know she knows how hard it is as a mom to see your son hurt. And when they step out into the world in ways they never have before, growing from little boys into independent young men, I know she went through that too. I have to think that, knowing what she did about her son, she must’ve wondered at times if she was doing all the right things. So today, while most sermons will focus the start of Jesus’ ministry, I’ll be thinking of Mary as she watched her role as his mom change forever. Nadia Bolz-Weber says that what made Mary such a badass wasn’t her obedience, but her trust that God saw her as worthy. And if God trusted me with these two, obviously He thinks I’m badass enough to raise them right. I guess I just need to trust that God knows what he’s doing.