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Mothers' Day 2020

Today we remember our mothers and all those who have nurtured our growth and our faith.

My mother died on June 18, 1996.  Although it seems like yesterday to me, I cannot believe it was 24 years ago.  The focus of the Children's Worship for this week suggests finding photos of family members where there is a resemblance.  Take a look at that page to see the photos I posted of my family.

As I prepared that resource for children, I found that looking at photos of my mom and grandmother evoked many, many memories. When I was born, we were living in the tiny village of Winona. Our family home was a safe haven for many family members including my paternal grandmother who lived with us until she died in 1960.  I remember her well, although I was only 7 when she died.

Some might have described my grandmother, Fleda, as "portly." She loved chocolate eclairs and other fine pastries and it didn't take long for that passion to create the layers of warmth and softness I remember as I cuddled in her lap.  She had a well-endowed bosom and as a young girl, I remember thinking she hid snacks in that secret hideaway.  She would refer to me and my brother as, "mortals."  For a time, I thought she was saying, "Morsels," but that confusion was cleared up early on in my life. Without a doubt, she was an early influence in my life, and it is obvious from the photo that our genetic patterns are closely linked.

Several weeks ago, I celebrated my birthday. In a COVID-19 environment, we didn't plan a dinner at a restaurant - or anything special, for that matter - but, I have discovered that the Universe has an elegant way of responding when we are isolated and alone.  That day, I was standing in the kitchen, thinking about my mother.  My birth was fraught with turmoil.  Mom had lost a child before me and I know she was worried. She might have even felt some concern about whether she was being punished for losing that earlier child.  So, picture it: Henderson Hospital in Hamilton, mid-April 1953.  Mom thought her waters had broken and she called the nurse who quickly discovered that my mother was hemorrhaging. Birth was imminent and the risk of losing mother and child loomed large. Quick action resulted in a safe delivery.

I knew this story and on my birthday, I recalled my memories - either of hearing the story or, who knows, perhaps I recalled a memory of the actual event. As I stood in my Wooler kitchen, I imagined the moment when I was placed securely in my mother's arms.  I cannot describe the sense of joy that I felt at that moment in time. I felt joy, but more than that, I felt secure. I was passed from mom to dad to grandmother, and countless others - and I have felt secure through the ages.

Over the years, I have been greatly distressed that the graves of my mother and grandmothers are not marked.  But, I know where they are, and more importantly, I know what those relationships have meant to me - how they have shaped me and made me into the complex being that I am becoming.

As we celebrate Mothers' Day in a challenging environment where touch can lead to a deathly infection, I invite you to ponder the moment you first arrived in the arms of your family. If there was joy, may it be a celebration; if there was sadness or turmoil, may it be healed.

As we celebrate Mothers' Day in the light of the Gospel passage from John, may we remember who and whose we are - our human and spiritual families.  May we celebrate the rich faith heritage that has been passed on to us, and most of all, may we find and manifest joy, peace, and love as incarnations of a divine love that surpasses all human understanding.

At Wooler United Church, we normally hand out flowers to the women in the congregation on Mothers' Day, but we can't do that this year. So, go out in your yard and pick a flower or simply stand in your kitchen and remember how you have been held in divine love throughout your life!

Stay safe, stay home, and PRAY!



Minister, Wooler United Church

Here a Mothers' Day wish and bouquet for all who nurture faith and love and hope!




Grieving amid Social Isolation

During this COVID-19 pandemic, grief and bereavement are further complicated by social distancing measures. We might not be able to be with a loved one at the time of death, we may not be able to engage in funerals or celebrations of life, and we may be isolated from the support of family and friends when we need it most.

What can be done to help in an extraordinarily complex time?

  1. Acknowledge that the loss is painful; most people feel overwhelmed by the roller coaster of emotions, but grieving is especially difficult amid this pandemic.
  2. Isolation makes grieving even more difficult, so reach out to loved ones who need support and increase connections through phone, letter writing, social media, or video calling.
  3. Find creative ways to celebrate the life of a loved one when it is not possible to have a traditional ceremony (light a candle, write in a journal, create a photo collage, plan an online funeral service, repeat the funeral service for smaller groups, and so forth).
  4. Children might enjoy writing letters, creating photo or music collages, and colouring sidewalks with chalk.
  5. Try to create daily routines that act as anchors during times of extraordinary change.

Remember, there is no right or wrong way to grieve the death of a loved one during this pandemic. Healthy coping strategies include: accepting the reality of the loss, getting support from others, and allowing the process of grief to unfold at its own pace. As Trudeau assures us, “We will get through this, together!”



Minister, Wooler United Church

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