So you have pain now; but I will see you again, and your hearts will rejoice, and no one will take your joy from you.
John 16:22 (NRSV)
Despite my best intentions, I couldn’t bring myself about to write something on Mother’s Day, which was yesterday, May 10th. It was not only the first Mother’s Day without my mother, but it was also exactly one-month to the day that she died.
Surprisingly, I was pretty composed throughout my two worship services. Only once, when a parishioner who hadn’t seen me since the death approached me to express his condolences, did I come close to crying or being overcome by sadness. I did mention to the congregation that it had been one-month at the time that I wished them a Happy Mother’s Day.
The English congregation which I served yesterday, First Lutheran Church, had a breakfast for mothers before their service; while La Trinidad, my parish, had a luncheon after our worship. So I was bookended by reminders of celebrations I will no longer share with my own mother.
Years ago we used to take Mom out to dinner on this day. Eventually she became weary of the ritual and insisted on cooking for us, something which I considered ridiculous. A couple of times after I began my ministry and could no longer join them for dinner, she came to church to worship with us. It was as much a joy for me to have her see me in action, as it was a source of pride for her. I remember specifically three years ago that she met some of my parishioners for the first time and they were enthralled with her. Recently that couple returned after a long absence and almost immediately they asked about Mom. It was on Palm Sunday and I had to share with them the unfortunate news that she was in the last stages of life. They were deeply grieved to hear the information.
Two of my sisters went to visit the gravesite yesterday and spent some time talking to her and praying over her. My plan is to go next Sunday after I finish with my pastoral duties.
I guess numbness is the only way I can describe the way I feel at this time. It’s as if I’m merely going through the motions and barely getting things done. This is probably a dangerous admission to make for someone in my position, but there is no sense of enthusiasm, no feeling of enjoyment. My hope is to recapture that at some point, but when?
I close with a poem by César Vallejo, a peruvian poet, which somewhat approaches what I am feeling at this time. I found the English translation so I will publish both it and the Spanish.
Los heraldos negros
por César Vallejo.
Hay golpes en la vida, tan fuertes … ¡Yo no sé!
Golpes como del odio de Dios; como si ante ellos,
la resaca de todo lo sufridose
empozara en el alma… Yo no sé!

Son pocos; pero son… Abren zanjas obscuras
en el rostro más fiero y en el lomo más fuerte.
Serán talvez los potros de bárbaros atilas;
o los heraldos negros que nos manda la Muerte.

Son las caídas hondas de los Cristos del alma,
de alguna fe adorable que el Destino blasfema.
Esos golpes sangrientos son las crepitaciones
de algún pan que en la puerta del horno se nos quema.

Y el hombre… Pobre… pobre! Vuelve los ojos, como
cuando por sobre el hombro nos llama una palmada;
vuelve los ojos locos, y todo lo vivido
se empoza, como charco de culpa, en la mirada.
Hay golpes en la vida, tan fuertes… Yo no sé!

Black Messengers
There are in life such hard blows . . . I don’t know!
Blows seemingly from God’s wrath; as if before them
the undertow of all our sufferings
is embedded in our souls . . . I don’t know!

There are few; but are . . . opening dark furrows
in the fiercest of faces and the strongest of loins,
They are perhaps the colts of barbaric Attilas
or the dark heralds Death sends us.

They are the deep falls of the Christ of the soul,
of some adorable one that Destiny Blasphemes.
Those bloody blows are the crepitation
of some bread getting burned on us by the oven’s door

And the man . . . poor . . . poor!
He turns his eyes around, like
when patting calls us upon our shoulder;
he turns his crazed maddened eyes,
and all of life’s experiences become stagnant, like a puddle of guilt, in a daze.
There are in life such hard blows . . . I don’t know!

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