This is my kind, peaceful mommy in her element: outside in the woods, with the sun on her face.

When I was a little girl, my mom took me hiking through the woods in the spring, tramping in our rubber wellies through the dead leaves and the ice-cold streams.  She showed me how to detect the delicate early blooms and the leaves that preceded them.  She taught me the names of the flowers: spring beauty, dutchman’s britches, hepatica, sweet william, buttercup, jack-in-the-pulpit, bloodroot.  I watched in fascination as she demonstrated the source of that last name: we picked the flower and squeezed its tender stem, and red juice ran into the crease of my palm.  We ate our sandwiches on flat sun-warmed rocks beside the creek, debating whether it was warm enough to go in barefoot.  We played pooh-sticks on the bridge: I dropped my stick into the water on one side of the bridge and raced breathless to the other to see if mine had beaten hers.

We walked back tired and happy, and–as always–she talked to me and listened to me and was never in a hurry.

Now I get to watch her take my children for walks.  She makes sure everyone has jackets and hats, boots and bottles of water, and snacks.  She holds their small hands, and leads them down the slopes, and helps them over tree roots, and bends beside them to join their awe over everything they see.

It’s a whole lot of work to take children for a hike, but my mom is not one to be deterred by that.  She has been taking care of children almost all her life, folding her tender, calm, reliable care around her two children and seven grandchildren, her nieces and nephews, and countless ranks of little people in Sunday School and VBS and after-school Bible clubs and summer camps.  She is patient, and she is present.

My mom maintains her wonder at all the pulsing, breathing life that God has made–the life of plants and children and people and the world.  She is a wonder of new life herself.  She has often told me what her first garden told her: when she saw the first fragile shoots coming up in the spring, bringing green to her hard and hurting life, she knew there must be a God.  She is proof that God really does make all things new.  And because she poured that new life out, investing so much of it into me, I grew up never doubting that there was a God.  I saw his love in the steadfast love of my mother, who showed me the life he had created all around us and told me how he had recreated her.

My mom does not give up on anyone–ever.  She has seen new life, real life, take root, and she believes in it.

On Mother’s Day, I think of my mom doing what she has always done: taking me by the hand and pointing to the new green shoots and saying, “Look: here –see what’s growing.”

Happy Mother’s Day, Mom.  I love you!

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