Another mother I wish to speak of this Mother’s Day Season is my own mother who died twenty years ago. The older I get (now 81) and the more I look back on my own life and work and spiritual journey, the more grateful I become for the strength and inventiveness, the curiosity and life-force, that my mother embodied and passed on to myself and my six siblings (three boys and three girls).
So much of it was born of her own intuition and deep thinking as she could only afford to attend one semester of college, but read voraciously and was a continual learner.
She passed on to the rest of us a love for life and for action—“no child of mine will ever be bored” she would respond when, on a rainy day we complained we were bored. She saw to it that our family had lots of magazines ranging from Mechanics Illustrated to Boy’s Life to Saturday Evening Post to Time, etc. She encouraged us to go to museums or art shows, to go canoeing, swimming, hiking, skating or whatever sports were appropriate to the season of the year. She herself bicycled and played tennis and walked us miles (we had no car for many years) some in the wagon, to swim or attend July 4th fireworks and many other events.
She developed her own conscience and expected us kids to do the same. Once, when she and I were doing dishes together in my teen years she turned to me and said, “Tim, when you’re grown up, make sure you are a person with opinions.”
Shortly after my father died, when they were both in their late 70’s, I visited her to inform her that she would be learning soon in the press that the Vatican was going to silence me for a year for “being a feminist theologian and calling God ‘Mother’ and preferring Original Blessing to Original Sin,” etc.
I began my conversation by asking her what it was like being the mother of a somewhat controversial priest and she replied, “Oh, I walk out of church all the time if the priest says something in his sermon that is really stupid. Your father and I had an agreement that he would continue in Mass and I would wait outside and there would be no arguments when we drove home.”
This was the first time I had ever heard that story and I asked, “when was the last time you did this?” “Oh, just a couple months before your father died,” she said. “But wasn’t that when you had your hip operation and you were using a walker”? “Oh, yes it was. And I banged that walker as loudly as I could as I left, such nonsense that priest was preaching!”
I am grateful for a mom like that on this Mother’s Day who walked her walk of conscience even when she needed a walker to do it. And made extra and deliberate noise in doing so. Wouldn’t you be?
Adapted from Matthew Fox, Confessions: The Making of a Post-denominational Priest, pp. 30f., 50-52, 93, 189, 404f.
And Matthew Fox, Creativity: Where the Human and the Divine Meet, pp. 218-220.
To read a transcript of Matthew Fox’s video teaching, click HERE.
Queries for Contemplation
Did you enjoy hearing about my mom? What stories about your mother arise at this season of Mother’s Day that inspire you and keep you in the game (of life)?
Creativity: Where the Divine and Human Meet
Because creativity is the key to both our genius and beauty as a species but also to our capacity for evil, we need to teach creativity and to teach ways of steering this God-like power in directions that promote love of life (biophilia) and not love of death (necrophilia). Pushing well beyond the bounds of conventional Christian doctrine, Fox’s focus on creativity attempts nothing less than to shape a new ethic.
“Matt Fox is a pilgrim who seeks a path into the church of tomorrow. Countless numbers will be happy to follow his lead.” –Bishop John Shelby Spong, author, Rescuing the Bible from Fundamentalism, Living in Sin