Sunday, March 10, 2013

Costly love

It seems to have been several years since we observed Mothering Sunday in Holy T - if my files of past Intercessions are anything to go by, we've stuck to Lent 4 for years, and I had nothing to plunder for my prayers for today. In the event, it took me some time to think about and produce same, but it was a rewarding sort of time. The readings helped, of course - that wonderful line at the end of the Gospel: "And a sword shall pierce your own soul also", and the story of Moses in the basket among the reeds.

Why did these strike such a chord? I was thinking of the costliness of the love shown by mothers across the ages and over today's world. I was thinking of mothers who had to watch their children die or suffer; I was thinking of the lines of women leading tired children to a hazardous safety in Jordan, leaving behind the ruination of their lives in Iraq. I was thinking of how many mothers will do anything for their child, and how letting the tendrils of love for each new life twine around the heart is taking a step that will never be retraceable. And I thought of how often we forget to tell our own mothers what they mean to us - forget until it's too late. And I thought of how that kind of love would know anyway. But I still wished I'd said something explicit.

But people like me don't say these things explicitly. Where they emerge is often oblique, there to be seen if you look hard. And sometimes poetry has to do it. It was poetry that summed up the enormity of what that Levite woman had done to save her baby son, poetry I wrote the last time, I think, that we read that lesson in church. I've published it before, on Frankenstina, along with a picture of the font we floated our messages on in paper boats, but because I used it today I'm putting it here.

ONCE ...

In the hot silence
while he slept
and only the flies sang
she made the basket
strong with love
to hold this one most precious thing
and gave it, dry-eyed,
to the waiting flood.
© C.M.


  1. I do like that, having preached twice on these readings this morning.