“What kind of mother do you intend to be?”
someone asked me on the eve of my child’s birth.
And this is what I said:
I want to be a Mother-Gardener.
A tender of soil
and giver of water;
one who moves and opens
to allow for sun to shine
and rain to fall…
all the things that her little one needs.
Mother-Gardener, nurturer of life,
for it’s within her body that the little one grows,
from tiny seed to leggy-limbed babe.
And it is her breast that will sustain his life
and make him strong and fat.
But like the best kind of gardener
she will know that this growing, sprawling babe
belongs not to her
but to the Mystery that governs life itself.
One day she will turn around and back again
to see that her beloved child
has shot forth a long stem with purple flower attached,
or produced a plump little fruit,
or has grown
– inexplicably –
so that he is bursting against the sides of his pot,
red-faced and comical.
She did not make that happen. That just happened.
The Mother-Gardener will laugh and shake her head with wonder,
and with gentle fingers pry him loose
and put him some place she knows he’ll do well:
the front of the house where it’s sunny, perhaps,
or around the side in the cool damp.
Hopefully she will know where because
– if she is a very good gardener –
she will sense what her beloved plant needs
to grow to be all that he can be.
The Mother-Gardener will get it wrong sometimes
and she need not worry:
this garden is a gracious place.
Tend, water and weed as she might,
it is not within her powers to make him thrive –
for she is but a Mother-Gardener,
in a world of Spirit-rain and salvation-sun,
and a Country that has been known
to drown with flood and shrivel with thirst.
The Mother-Gardener is not Everything.
This babe was a kaleidoscope of potential
when he was but a seed,
and the Mother-Gardener’s only job is to use these dirt-caked hands
to help him realise that which is within, waiting…
wondrous flowers and fantastic fruits,
leaves and spikes of shapes and colours
that are known, at this time, not to her or anyone else –
only to Mystery itself.
Has there ever been
a job as replete as this
with both responsibility