ADVENT MEDITATION: She Was The Crowned Queen Of Women by Harriet Beecher Stowe

December 22, 2016

There was one woman whom the voice of a divine messenger, straight from Heaven, pronounced highly favored.  In what did this favor consist? Of noble birth, of even royal lineage, she had fallen into poverty and obscurity.  The great, brilliant, living world of her day knew her as the rushing equipages and palatial mansions of our great cities know the daughters of poor mechanics in rural towns. There was plenty of splendor, and rank, and fashion in Jerusalem then.  Herod the Great was a man of cultivation and letters, and beautified the temple with all sorts of architectural embellishments; and there were high priests, and Levites, and a great religious aristocracy circling about its precincts, all of whom, if they thought of any woman [...]

SATURDAY READING: The Shawl, by Cynthia Ozick

January 10, 2015

From The New Yorker Stella, cold, cold, the coldness of hell.  How they walked on the roads together, Rosa with Magda curled up between sore breasts, Magda wound up in the shawl.  Sometimes Stella carried Magda.  But she was jealous of Magda.  A thin girl of fourteen, too small, with thin breasts of her own, Stella wanted to be wrapped in a shawl, hidden away, asleep, rocked by the march, a baby, a round infant in arms.  Magda took Rosa’s nipple, and Rosa never stopped walking, a walking cradle.  There was not enough milk; sometimes Magda sucked air; then she screamed.  Stella was ravenous.  Her knees were tumors on sticks, her elbows chicken bones. Rosa did not feel hunger; she felt light, not like someone walking but like [...]

MOTHERHOOD: Extenuating Circumstances by Joyce Carol Oates

January 8, 2015

From The Ontario Review Because it was a mercy. Because God even in His cruelty will sometimes grant mercy. Because Venus was in the sign of Sagittarius. Because you laughed at me, my faith in the stars. My hope. Because he cried, you do not know how he cried. Because at such times his little face was so twisted and hot, his nose running with mucus, his eyes so hurt. Because in such he was his mother, and not you. Because I wanted to spare him such shame. Because he remembered you, he knew the word Daddy. Because watching TV he would point to a man and say Daddy— Because this summer has gone on so long, and no rain. The heat lightning flashing at night, without thunder. Because in the silence, at night, the summer insects scream. [...]

POETRY: Bite Me, by Beth Ann Fennelly

January 7, 2015

You who are all clichés of babysoft crawl to my rocking chair, pull up on my knees, lift your delicate finger to the silver balloon from your first birthday, open your warm red mouth and let float your word, your fourth in this world, Bawoooooon— then, delighted, bite my [...]

MOTHERHOOD: One Mean Mennonite Mama — A Pacifist Parent Faces Her Anger by Valerie Weaver-Zercher

January 6, 2015

From Christian Peace and Nonviolence I did something not long ago that I’ve always claimed I’d never do: I spanked my child.  Not only did I spank him, but I did it in a moment of complete, unfettered rage.  Even if you think spanking is effective discipline, everyone knows you’re not supposed to do it out of anger. My five-year-old was disappointed that he couldn’t go to a picnic and was slamming doors, kicking and yelling, “Bad Mama!”  (Considering what happened next, this was probably a fitting moniker.)  The three-year-old and one-year-old were also throwing minor fits, and I was facing several more hours with these tykes.  I was depleted, and after almost six years of parenting, I should have [...]

MOTHERHOOD: Johnella LaRose, 50, speaks to her daughter, Kasima Kinlichiinii, 22

January 5, 2015

From Mom: A Celebration of Mothers from Storycorps Johnella LaRose: I had two children and I was three months pregnant with you, Kasima, when your dad left.  And I remember thinking, Now what am I going to do?  We were living in the Los Padres National Forest [California] with other Indian people, taking care of horses and cows.  We got $436 a month on welfare, and I did beadwork, I sewed, I did laundry, I ironed – I did everything. Kasima Kinlichiinii: You would pick up cans, too, and I was like, Oh my God, here she goes again, picking up cans!  The other day, my cousin was drinking ginger ale, and I said, “Don’t you throw that can away!”  And I was like, Oh God, I sound like my mother! [laughs] [...]

POETRY: Why I Never Answered Your Letter, by Nancy Willard

December 24, 2014

It’s true I make books, but not often Mostly I am always feeding someone, nine cats whose tails flag me down each morning and who know a soft touch when they feel one, and who write on my door in invisible milk. Good for a handout. Good for a night’s lodging. Mostly I’m taking from Peter and not paying Paul. My man comes home, dreaming of sirloin. I ravage the house: three eggs and half a potato. I embalm them in amorous spices with beautiful names. It’s true I make books, but mostly I make do. The chapters of hunger are filled but nothing is [...]

STATIONS OF THE CROSS: Fourth Station — Jesus Christ Is Met By His Mother by Evelyn Underhill

March 16, 2014

From The Path of Eternal Wisdom, written under the pseudonym, John Cordelier The Eternal Wisdom Encounters Human Love It is surely humanity’s most poignant moment when the best that it has produced confronts the best that the spiritual universe has given. Then, as at no other station of our journey, the awful travail of the Eternal Wisdom is revealed to the soul in whom he has been born, and who has learned to love him as her dearest possession, adore him as her God. In this supreme hour she looks into the eyes of that Perfection who is at once her creator and her son: the most intimate of all mysteries, the most mysterious of all intimates.  That glance brings with it the full realization of her impotence, as well as of her love.  [...]

POETRY: The Hammock, by Li-Young Lee

January 29, 2014

When I lay my head in my mother’s lap I think how day hides the star, the way I lay hidden once, waiting inside my mother’s singing to herself. And I remember how she carried me on her back between home and the kindergarten, once each morning and once each afternoon. I don’t know what my mother’s thinking. When my son lays his head in my lap, I wonder: Do his father’s kisses keep his father’s worries from becoming his? I think Dear God, and remember there are stars we haven’t heard from yet: They have so far to arrive. Amen, I think, and I feel almost comforted. I’ve no idea what my child is thinking. Between two unknowns, I live my life. Between my mother’s hopes, older than I am by [...]

POETRY: Letters To Mama From Cottonwood, by Lynn Doiron

December 27, 2013

HOUSE THE COLOR OF CHOCOLATE 1 After noon on Sunday, Mama: delicious sounds— a splat of apple against the wall, your shusch! of Dad’s teen brother’s almost-got-you guffaws. Delicious sights— Curl of red peel in your hair, Quiet! finger pressed to lips. then your final missiled wedge, and uncle skulking off, bits of fleshy MacIntosh juicing down his cheek. He passes Dad who naps under tented newsprint on the sofa, brogan-booted feet, calf-manure crusted, extend over upholstered arm. Headlines rise and lower with his ex- and inhalations. Before he stirs, paper sluicing to floor, all the kitchen walls will shine—once again glossy as egg-whites in our house the color of chocolate. Then you’ll run the vac, working out in [...]

POETRY: Mothers. Grandmothers. Women., by Marian Wright Edelman (with a quote from Virginia Woolf)

December 26, 2013

Mothers. Grandmothers. Women. We have so much work to do. So many mothers and infant lives to save. So many child dreams to realize and hopes to nourish and protect. Our countries and a common world to change and such long distances to travel—from waging war to waging peace; from sickness and death to health; from doubt to faith in Creator’s feminine spirit within Let some of us—you and I—begin this minute on that journey To speak for those unable to speak for themselves To stand with those who cannot stand alone To gather family and friends to stand with us. Let us being this day singing a new song for all our mother and sisters and brothers and fathers and children around our world who are our own. —Marian Wright Edelman * [...]

REFLECTION: Trees Make Exemplary Mothers, by Diana Beresford-Kroeger

December 26, 2013

From The Global Forest OH MOTHER, DEAR The mothering instinct comes naturally to a tree.  Trees are like warm-blooded mammals that will protect their offspring, in some instances to the death.  But the tree does it differently; the fight for life is with the weapons from the mother’s ancestral arsenal. Like most mothers, most trees are not naturally solitary.  They are community dwellers.  The community for the tree is the forest.  Inside the forest all mother trees get the greatest protection possible.  It is in the form of sophisticated alarm signals.  These are generated by rapidly moving carbon-bearing molecules that flash out from the tree spreading into the atmosphere.  They move in airways around the trees of the [...]