Mother's Day was last Sunday, and thoughts of my own mother have been occupying my mind over the past couple of weeks. Mom has been gone now for more than four years, but this year for some reason, her absence seems to have penetrated my thoughts and emotions more deeply than they did last year. Perhaps I'm aging into a new phase of adulthood and as noted by Alan Webster in an editorial on Jesus and his relationship with his parents:
Hardly an adult, who looks back, would not think of ways he could have honored his parents more. Some say, "How much more time I would spend with my parents if only I had them back."
But like a large stone dropped into the swirling waters of my stream of consciousness, Lou Ann Karabel's message on Mother's Day forced my thoughts into some new and unforeseen patterns. Her message was about women as unrecognized and relatively uncelebrated disciples amidst the patriarchal culture Jesus was born into, and the power of words to open and close doors in our relationships with God and with each other. I thought about Mom, born into a more or less patriarchal agrarian society on the Great Plains of North America in 1925, with all the expectations and limitations a young girl would have faced, and I wondered if much had really changed for young girls in 2000 years.
Most of all, I wanted to be able to listen to my mother's words, and for her to be able to hear my words in response, to share the power of words with each other again.
I wanted to be able to tell her thank you, thank you for feeding me fresh from the garden, thank you for the apple pies, thank you for letting me build tree houses, thank you for washing my muddy baseball outfits, thank you for sending me to college with plenty of home baked cookies, thank you for being such a loving role model and inspiration to me and my family.
But I also wanted to tell her I'm sorry for the words not spoken and the words not written that should have been, sorry for the long silences, for being too ready to take for granted all the sacrifices she made for me, for being part of a culture that sometimes failed to recognize her gifts, her toils, her sacrifices, and yes, her discipleship.
So as you reflect on your week and go forward, remember that your words do indeed matter in your relationships with God and with your loved ones. But also reflect on the words not spoken and the words not written that should have been. These too, are words that matter.
Elder Jerry Kahrs