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Friday, 25 November 2011

The Greatest Legacy

I've been thinking a lot about my mother these days. She was a diminutive woman, quiet spoken, gentle, full of joy and love. I cannot tell my story without telling hers.

There are a number of chapters within my mother's story. First there is the chapter, that to me as a child was far off and misty, her life before marriage and children. She grew up in Toronto not far from Casa Loma. She rode her bike, fell off it once and broke her arm, went to school, church, Sunday school, and spent her summer vacations at the family cottage on Lake Huron. She lived through the depression and WWII. As a young woman my mother studied and earned a degree from U of T then went to Shaw business school; after which, she worked for the Toronto Board of Education. It's hard to imagine, but my mom went to foot-ball games, hockey games, dances and parties. She bought herself three fur coats, which as a child I marveled over; the fur was so soft. My mum met my Dad when she was twenty-five and they went on dates! My parents eventually married, and started a family. My mother had a baby about every two years until my youngest brother Paul was born when she was thrity-eight.

I am the third child of five, and the only girl. Growing up, life was full, we played foot-ball and soccer, cops and robbers, cowboys and Indians, hide and seek, road hockey, we climbed trees and rode our bikes for hours at a time. My mother stayed home with us; she read to us, took us to the library, sang to us, taught us songs and rhymes, helped me set up tea parties for my dolls, and let us make gargantuan forts in the living room. One of the things I remember vividly is that my mother didn't just read stories, she told them complete with unique voices for different characters, and we had our favourites. She had a marvelous memory, and could recite poetry. Some of the poems I remember her reciting are, "The Cremation of Sam McGee", "The Raven", and "The Highway Man." She was really good at holding our attention. In spite of all this my mother always seemed a little sad, even a little distant to me as a child. I once asked her why she never smiled. There were things about my mother's life that were shrouded in mystery. Thoughts and feelings that she never shared.

One day, when I was about fourteen, I came home from school and my mother said she had something to tell me. She told me that she had asked Jesus into her heart, and then she cried. This is another chapter in my mother's life, her life with Jesus. She became joyful like there was something lighting her from the inside. That light never died even though she suffered. Two of my brothers were mentally ill. My youngest brother committed suicide at the age of twenty-five, and my oldest drank, and then one day, while in a drunken stupor, he fell backwards down the stairs in his house; he suffered a massive head injury and died alone. My mother's light never went out. I'm crying as I write this, remembering the blow of the unexpected deaths of loved ones gone too soon. They were my brothers; they were my mother's sons. She held them in her arms as babies, nursed them, dreamed dreams for them, and finally she grieved for them. Yet her light never went out.

When I think of my mother, I think faith, hope and love, especially love.
She did not spend her life amassing a fortune, beautifying herself, or gaining position; instead, she spent it loving others. She left us the greatest legacy of all.

Thursday, 24 November 2011

The Only Story I Can Tell.

I decided to start this blog because I kept wanting to share my thoughts in places like Face Book and Twitter. Then I realized that people would soon want to delete me as their friend if I kept it up. I don't have anything astounding to share except my experiences as another average human being. My Story.

Today I woke up with the tune for "Be Thou My Vision" in my head. I was really disappointed with myself when I realized that the last line of every verse was missing from my memory. I decided to get up and find the lyrics of this beautiful hymn somewhere. I looked for the hymn books that I know are somewhere in this crazy house but came up empty. Then I thought "the computer"! Lo and behold Google came through again. I wrote the lyrics in a note book sang the hymn then realized that the last lines for the next song in my heart had disappeared as well. What an age we live in! I soon found the lyrics for "The Deep, Deep love of Jesus." As I wrote the lines and sang the song I realized how much I want to share this great Love, "Love of every love the Best!"

Some of the words:

O the deep, deep love of Jesus,
Vast unmeasured, boundless FREE!...

How He loveth, ever loveth,
Changes never, nevermore...

O the deep, deep love of Jesus,
Love of every love the best!
Tis an ocean vast of blessing,
Tis a heaven of heavens to me.
And it lifts me up to glory,
For it lifts me up to THEE!

This song means so much to me because it sums up a lot of my story. As a young person I searched for love. I made a lot of mistakes, did a lot of things that left me feeling empty and lonelier than before. I know it's a cliche but I was lost, blindly trying to find a way to home, to comfort for my soul, to one who would wrap loving arms around me and love me always no matter what. I didn't find it in friends, drugs, drink, dancing, men's arms or even in motherhood. Then one day I realized that I needed something beyond what I could see, touch, taste. I knew that I was no better than anyone else. I was using others the way they used me. I reached up higher than ever before. I called out a name that I hadn't uttered, except in cursing, for years, Jesus! I knew how small I was in that moment, how much I needed to be real with him. I felt like Mary Magdalene I wept tears and he opened his arms and I walked in! My search was over! I'd found that "Deep, Deep Love, Vast, unmeasured, boundless, free! The heaven we are all searching for is HIM.

Sometimes I forget where I've been and where I'm going. Sometimes it takes me awhile to realize that and I find myself in a blind alley in the end it is always He who puts my feet back in His way. He reminds me where I've come from, where I've been and who I am travelling with now. He causes me to sing:

Heart of my own heart, whatever befall,
Still be my vision, O Ruler of all!