With my mother, Jean, college graduation, May 1985.
Service to our higher power and to one another promotes well-being. It is usually through service that we find our calling. I would not presume to speak for my mother, no longer with us, as to her primary calling. It was evident to me, however, that she was called to serve at different junctures in her life. Her witness to my life, and to the lives of others, is well-remembered.
In 1872, the Board of Missions in the Episcopal Church created “The Woman’s Auxiliary,” which later became the Episcopal Church Women, or ECW. Mom was a member of the ECW for many years and developed friendships with some of the greatest women ever. Mom and her fellow ECW members contributed a great deal to the world, and being with them always gave her a sense of that well-being that I mentioned. She was dedicated to God and to her parish.
My mother was known as “Nana” to my sisters’ children. She had the ability to give each grandchild the sense that he or she was special. Mom enjoyed her grandchildren immensely, just as she did her own children. She was the matriarchal “glue” that helped hold our family together. If you wanted to know what was going on with a particular family member, you just had to ask Jean; she had the scoop. Part of my mother’s servant ministry was being a loving presence for us and others who were fortunate enough to have crossed her path.
My sister, Carol, reminded me on this year’s Valentine’s Day (by sending me a “Superman” Valentine card) of how Mom, during my pre-school days, transformed a pair of my pajamas into a homemade Superman costume and pinned a red towel on me for use as a cape. Every day at 4:00 p.m., when the original “Superman” series aired, I would lie prone over our cushioned footstool and pretend I was flying. Now, if that isn’t service for the sake of a child, I don’t know what is! February 14, 2018, marked what would have been my parents’ 65th anniversary. It’s a bittersweet day, made even more so as I reflect on my mother’s service to the world.
May 14, 2000, was a special day for me. It was Mother’s Day, the day I was ordained. It marked another progression in my spiritual relationship with my mother, who died the previous year. I recall contemplating, as the congregation laid hands on me (beginning with the children, a personal request), how a year earlier, as my mother lay dying, I had promised her that I wasn’t through—that I was just getting warmed up. It was an emotional moment, for sure, yet one laden with conviction. I think my sense of service and restoration came from her.
In what manner of service are you called this year? This month? This week?
“Come, follow me,” he said, “and I’ll show you how to fish for people.” Jesus (Matthew 4:19; CEB)
“The most respected people in our community are the elders who have spent their life in service to others.” Wilma Mankiller, former Principal Chief, Cherokee Nation