I guess it is inevitable that I should miss my mother, the person who birthed me into this world, as my birthday draws near. Although we are exquisitely connected for all time, I miss her presence in my life at this time. Paraphrasing a phrase that I read in a book about motherhood: “Mother is the first place I knew.”
One of the classes for my master’s program in Women’s Spirituality at New College of California, led by Namonyah Soipan, involved creating a healing ritual for ourselves. I had always wondered about my time in the womb. I knew my mother had been very sick near the beginning of her pregnancy. As a fourth child, was I welcomed? She already had three daughters, one of whom required extra attention for a heart condition.
In the ritual I created, the nine women in class that day (an interesting synchronicity) sat in a circle around me and each one became the voice of my mother during that month of her pregnancy. In the safety of the sacred space we had created that afternoon, I turned towards each of them, one at a time, in the darkened room; I told her of my love for her and asked her how she was. I hadn’t anticipated what happened next. The words that came through for me were so loving and kind. “Welcome, my Daughter! I can’t wait to meet you!” They poured into my heart and transformed any lingering doubt and disconnection. Rather than being concerned about herself, my “mother” expressed her concern about me. And in turn, I had the opportunity to express – and to feel – how concerned I felt about her. Nothing was scripted. The women were being open to their hearts and intuition. It was a beautiful healing experience. This ritual helped me understand my lifelong ability to “feel the feelings” of my mother, which seemed to reach back to my early concern about her before I was born.
After my mother died last year, I placed a photo of her on my devotional altar to the Black Madonna. The image is from her pilgrimage to Medjugorje in the 1980s in what was then Yugoslavia. She is sitting on a rocky hill, a holy mountain she climbed with fellow pilgrims, to the place of an apparition of the Virgin Mary. I like imagining her there, in that place of possibilities where so many have visited over the decades since the visions to the Seers first began, where the Divine became manifest on earth. My mother had a life-long devotion to the Blessed Mother.
I’m grateful that my mother lived a long life, which granted me a long relationship with her. It has enabled me to see the continuity of life, even in the midst of loss. She birthed and raised seven children, who gave her 21 grandchildren, and an ever-rising number of great grandchildren. I can see that life continues even after our own lives end. Life finds a way to move forward through us and beyond us.
With gratitude to my mother for bringing me into the world and for raising me with an awareness of and appreciation for the spirituality of life.