Thursday, October 6, 2011

Thanks, Mom

Another year has passed. One more trip around the sun. 365 sleeps, not including naps. Yes, that's right, it's my birthday once again.

And this year I've decided to thank my Mom.

Well, alright. I thank her a lot for many things all the time, but this year I've decided to look in the Writings and see just what it is that I really need to thank her for. Oh, I mean, besides life, sustenance, a good family, education; I'm sure the list can go on. I know it can. There are just way too many things to thank her for, if I begin to include all the things she's done for me in my life.

Like what? Let's see.

First of all, she was the one who held me "in the matrix", as 'Abdu'l-Baha puts it. It was there, in the womb, that I "passed from condition to condition, from form to form, from one shape to another, for this is according to the requirement of the universal system and divine law."

But more than that, this womb-life was also a metaphor which I can carry with me for all eternity. "The beginning of the existence of man", says 'Abdu'l-Baha, "on the terrestrial globe resembles his formation in the womb of the mother. The embryo in the womb of the mother gradually grows and develops until birth, after which it continues to grow and develop until it reaches the age of discretion and maturity. Though in infancy the signs of the mind and spirit appear in man, they do not reach the degree of perfection; they are imperfect. Only when man attains maturity do the mind and the spirit appear and become evident in utmost perfection."

So there I was, growing my body, getting it ready for the day that I would make an appearance here in this world, 44 years ago this very afternoon. And there, ta da, I came. Of course, being me, I stuck my foot out (yes, I was a breach baby) (and a month early, too), wiggled it around, and tried to climb back in. I'm sure I thought it was too cold in that delivery room. But then what? I had to grow, for I was only a baby, after all.

This is what I always try to remember. No matter how old I get here on this world, no matter how much experience I may think I'm getting, it is all like the babe in the womb. When I shuffle off this mortal coil, and enter into the next world, I will be as inexperienced as that tiny infant who was born from my Mom. I will need to spend a lot of time and energy, a lot of effort learning to grow and develop into what will pass for maturity in that next world.

This is one of the things that I learned from my Mom, whether or not she realizes it.

So there I was, a new born child, already demonstrating a gift for precociousness (month early, remember) and humour (I'm not even going to go there), and what did she do? Mom was my first educator. She showed me love right from day one. She provided for me, helped guide me and nurtured me. She was my world.

Aside - You know, to this day I still recall some of my dreams from when I was 3 years old, and they all centre around this theme of love and nurturing. I cannot begin to tell you how wonderful it is that those are my earliest memories. Oh sure, I was chastised, yelled at, spanked, and all that other stuff, but it is the love that I recall clearest.

And what did I offer her in return? Well, 'Abdu'l-Baha says "a father and mother endure the greatest troubles and hardships for their children". In my case, I think they endured this "from" this child.

Another aside - When I was still in my crib, my parents gave me a wonderful set of Batman and Robin pillows. (This may explain why I so love comic books and stuff.) I was barely able to stand, but I thoroughly enjoyed my life. And I loved those pillows. But one afternoon, when I was supposed to be taking my nap, I noticed something odd: there was something sticking out of my pillow. Naturally, being the curious little monkey that I was (as opposed to the curious big monkey that I am), I pulled on it. Boop! A single, fluffy feather popped out of the pillow and flew up into the air. Neat, I thought, as I watched it drift back and forth in its downward motion. I looked back at the pillow and there was another feather ready to make the same little trip. Well, I obliged to help it. Who am I to stop one from such a lovely little journey? Boop! There it went, up and floating down. Oh, and there was another one wanting to go, too. Boop!

By the time my Mom thought to check on me, the pillow was sadly less stuffed than it had been, and my room looked like it was preparing me for all the snow that I would experience later in my life.

My poor Mom had a dickens of a time cleaning up all those feathers.

By the time she was finished, my Dad got home and asked her how her day was. She told him, with the full weight of exhaustion in her voice, about my experiments with the pillow, and the fluffy consequences.

My Dad, wonderful soul that he was, began to ask, "Didn't he have two..." But before he could finish his question, a look of horror came over both their faces as the full realization hit of what it meant by Batman and Robin each having their own pillow in my bed. They dashed upstairs just in time to see me pulling what must have been one of the last feathers out of that second pillow.

Oh yes, 'Abdu'l-Baha was right. My parents did endure troubles and hardships for me. Of course, I caused most of them, but still, I try to follow His advice. What else does He say? "Comfort thy mother and endeavor to do what is conducive to the happiness of her heart." I try. Oh, how I try. (And I can just hear my Mom saying now, "Yes, he is very trying.")

My Mom also helped shape my destiny. Not only did she give me the name "Mead", which is decidedly medieval in feel, but she is also an artist. She is a wonderful painter, and I so remember her many experiments in different fields of work. In fact, for a while she was making jewelry and even dabbled in chainmail, my own chosen profession. You see, without even realizing it, she was following the Master's statement: " is enjoined upon the father and mother, as a duty, to strive with all effort to train the daughter and the son, to nurse them from the breast of knowledge and to rear them in the bosom of sciences and arts."
While it was my Dad who gave me my love for science and math, and even inadvertently encouraged me in my lifelong study of spiritual matters, it was my Mom who cultivated my love of the arts. (Except for opera and classical music. I have to give Dad credit for those.)

So whereas there are many wonderful things I can say about my Dad, it really is my Mom that I credit the most. As it says in the Writings, "The first trainer of the child is the mother. The babe, like unto a green and tender branch, will grow according to the way it is trained." If there are any roses that are growing on the branch of my being, it is to Mom that the credit goes.

The thorns? Well, those are all mine.

_ _ _ _ _

Post writing addendum: I just read this to my wife and asked her how it was. She said, with much laughter in her voice, that it was wonderful for those who know both my Mom and me. She said, though, that for those of you who don't know me, you might not realize that every story in this article is absolutely true. And that my Mom and I really do act as silly as I portray us. They are, and we do. So, there you go.

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