January 2, 2012

"Praise God, All You Worms and Spiderman!"

I woke up three hours early this morning. God’s to blame. She always uses the early morning to nudge me about the things that are good for me. The trouble is, I wake with the nudge, and then have to work at figuring out what the nudge is telling me. That’s why I’m writing now – to figure out this morning’s nudge.

I woke with worried thoughts about my children. My kids, of course, think I worry too much. All kids think their mothers worry too much. They don’t know the half of it, because for a good portion of the time I have spent worrying about these particular children, they were too young to know any better. Then, when they were old enough to understand my worry, they were unconscious – figuratively and/or literally – in bars or hospital beds. Now they are grown up, living wonderful and meaningful lives, and my responsibility for their safety is long over. But still I worry. Because there is so much life still ahead of them, and I know – deeply – that neither I nor anyone else can protect them from the hard parts.

I can’t protect them from making questionable choices that lead to hardship. I can’t protect them from money troubles. I can’t protect them from disappointments in love or work. I can’t protect them from catastrophe, loss, temptation, ruin, or grief.
“Whoa,” says God. “What about me?”

And that pulls me up short. In spite of the fact that both of my sons are sensitive to the moving of the heart and the spirit, neither of them are religious. They don’t attend Quaker meeting or any other church on anything approaching a regular basis. When he was a teenager, one of them used to have zealously emotional rants at me about what a fool I was to believe in anything or anyone called “God.” Through the years, in order to bear the heartache of not being able to share this most beautiful of relationships with them, and treading into that borderless land where mothers inappropriately try to mold their adult children, I carefully dissociated my relationship with them from my relationship with the Divine. So I don’t talk with them about God, the still, small Voice within, the Inward Teacher, the Creator, the Light, the Power at the Center of All. I have taught myself to just let them be.
This was the accomplishment of a mother who used to chant God’s praises with her young son sitting in her lap each morning. We would each supply some of the words of the prayer: “Praise God, all you dewdrops and maple leaves! Praise God, all you bumblebees and dragonflies! Praise God, all you worms and Spiderman!” I didn’t think God would mind too much about Spiderman, since this beautiful, innocent, bright-faced little boy was learning to love singing to God.

This was the accomplishment of a mother who knew in the depth of her soul, looking at her sleeping baby in the crib, that this child would have his own relationship with God, that God would lead him by the hand on his own path to Life and Love. That it didn’t matter what I wanted for him. What mattered was what God wanted for him.
So to leave God out of my conversations with my teen and young adult sons was no easy task. But I managed it. I continued to pray for them. But I have made a terrible error. I haven’t understood how important conversation was to tending the relationship between my sons and their own Inner Light. I have been shown that it doesn’t matter where the conversation happens, but happen it must. When I stopped talking to them about God, I could have intensified my talking to God about them. But I didn’t. As a result, my prayers about my sons became fewer, further between, and less juicy.  It became a matter of going to God when they were in real trouble, but otherwise not really thinking of God and them together in the same thought, as if they inhabited different lands within my fractured psyche.

So when God said, “What about me?” it pulled me up short. And I knew, in the multiverse of that one, simple question, that my worry was needless. That these lives my sons are living – in goodness, grace, and challenge – are full of the opportunity of blessing and learning. And that God holds them in the palm of Her hand just as surely as She holds me.
And I also knew without doubt that I could no longer hold them separate from God within my mind and heart. That, for my own sake and for theirs, I needed to hold them together with the Light that surpasses understanding, and to hold them often, with their partners and their children, so that we can be whole. And so that my blood lineage, so fractured through the generations before me, can be made whole.

I thank you, Creator, Beloved, my dear and deep Inward Teacher. I thank you for waking me up in body and soul. I thank you for using my worry to lead me back to You. I thank you for turning every willing part of me back to the Light. I thank you for sharing the power of creation with me, and with all of us. I thank you for the power of laughter and love, for the healing innocence of children, for this lovely world of earth, air, fire and water. I thank you for all of your children. And I thank you for mine.
I thank you for my sons, for their partners, and for their children, the ones who are here and the ones who will come. I thank you for our ancestors, who did their best and got us this far. I thank you for our descendants, the future generations, who will carry us further. I thank you for pulling me up short, and for reminding me: “What about You?”