As a father of two wonderful girls still with me and one gone too soon, and as a husband who watches his wife celebrate two and grieve another, especially on Mother’s Day, I offer this prayer.
God, creator of life, Jesus, sustainer of life, and Holy Spirit, conduit of all life:
In your generosity you have deemed many worthy of the gift of motherhood, and for that we are all better. Beginning with Eve, you began a tradition of passing down motherhood for generations to come. I am thankful for the joy, frustrations, silliness, tears, and deep love that have been passed from mother to child from Eve all the way down to my own children, and one day their children. I celebrate the motherhood of Elizabeth and the passion she instilled in John. I sympathize with the mother of James and John for the shenanigans she must have endured from “the sons of thunder.” And I feel the pride Deborah’s mother must have felt as she led your people. Over the years you’ve given us many good mothers to guide us into your kingdom, our own included. Thank you.
I painfully remember the other mothers, too. I feel the pain of Bathsheba and the child she never knew. It’s a strange feeling when your arms ache with the heaviness of holding a child you didn’t get to rock to sleep, nurse, or bathe. Yet they are always that child’s mother. And they are good moms.
Comfort the mothers who miss their children who are gone too soon.
I pray for peace for mothers who have lost their children to the senseless violence and chaos of our world. For the mothers whose screams echoed off the pyramids in Egypt and the walls of Herod’s palace. For the mothers whose children did not come home from battles throughout time and place—soldiers and innocents killed for country, to defend others, or even for the color of their skin. What terrors we have wrought upon these women. Forgive us.
Give them peace in the emptiness of their hearts for the children we took.
I sit with Hannah and want to scream but cannot because the agony of wanting a child and never having one suffocates. To so desperately want a child and not have one is an agony that stifles all words. Yet you climbed down into her heart and suffered with her. You blessed her with a child, but many never feel kicks inside their womb. Many never escape the suffocating pain of not being a mother.
Yet you scream silently with them. The world may think them drunk or insane, but you sit with them in compassion.
I smile as I remember how big the heart of motherhood is. The love of a mother knows no bounds, not even kinship. Pharaoh’s daughter, that wonderful girl, she mothered a child not her own because of her boundless heart. Mary loved John, not because Jesus asked her, but because she was John’s mother, too. I imagine she was a mother to all twelve. And I marvel at the love of countless mothers who have saved children from exposure and taken them in as their own.
For those whose hearts are big enough for adoption, I praise you.
And you, the perfect mother. You have defined motherhood for all of us, setting the bar. You’ve raised us with the perfect balance of kindness, firmness, compassion, humility, strength, and love. You are love, and not a second goes by when we aren’t loved by you. Thank you for gathering us under your wings when we scatter the wrong ways. We so easily get lost. Thank you for nursing us, feeding us, and nurturing us—physically, emotionally, mentally, and spiritually. Motherhood is a state of being that never ends, not even for death. Mothers are always with us, and you are no different. So hold us while we cry and mourn and hurt. Laugh with us when we are silly. Watch us perform on the stages of life with pride in your eye. Sit at soccer games for your grandkids.
Do what you have always done. Be who you have always been. You amaze me. Thank you.
I let Mary have the last word, for she knows motherhood better than I. She once sang to you about motherhood and I echo her words back to you.
“My soul praises you, Lord, and my life is full of joy in you, my God and savior, because you have looked at little, lowly, me—your servant—with fondness. Surely, from now until the end of time all people will think of me as blessed, because you, the mighty one, have done great things for me. Holy is your name!”