We Gave Our Mother Violets

Sunday, April 3, 2011
Listen to this devotional:

Exodus 20:12 – Regard (treat with honour, due obedience and courtesy) your father and mother, that your days may be long in the land the Lord your God gives you. (AMP)

In 1978, my sister and I returned to England, the land of our birth, on vacation, and visited the church where our parents were married and where we had attended as little children. The church was not damaged during the war years, and we were able to see the signatures of our parents in the marriage registry. We were amazed to see that both our parents' signatures were very much the same as at the time of their death. To form their union, my mother had made her decision at the age of nineteen, my father at twenty-one. Through all the years of their marriage — frugally stretching a tiny income early on, enduring the war years when each day brought new fearful possibilities, enjoying a more luxurious lifestyle in the post-war years, and taking up residence in a new land with its great upheaval — their relationship had not been tarnished by any of life's changing circumstances.

To my adult gaze, the sanctuary appeared so much smaller, and was aided by artificial lighting, a rare occasion in times gone by. I could see myself, aged five or six, wearing my best Sunday dress, my straw hat just a little crooked, with tiny flowers decorating the ribbon band. My sister, aged seven or eight, was dressed the same, but her hat flowers were a little different than mine. The church interior was dark and gloomy, with shafts of light piercing the gloom through long narrow windows, framed by the wide stone walls. My sister and I were with all the little children at the front of the church with teachers scattered here and there to keep order as required. I could smell violets. It must be Mothering Sunday, always scheduled on the fourth Sunday of Lent, three weeks before Easter. My sister and I were lined up with the other children to receive a tiny bunch of violets to give to our mothers. I could see my sister, having received her gift, hurrying towards mother, and I being held back with my own age group. I could feel my anxiety rising — my sister would be the first to present her gift. My mother and father were seated in the centre of the pew. I breathed a sigh of relief, as my mother waited until both of us arrived, then made her way to the aisle to receive our tiny, inexpensive gifts, one for each hand. My sister touched my arm; the sanctuary was suddenly light and bright. It was time to leave this place of precious memories.

Our Scripture verse not only gives a command, but with it, adds a promise, that we would be blessed with a long life if we loved and respected our fathers and mothers. If our mothers are still alive, with great age, they may have developed a mild or severe form of mental disability, with the repetition of remarks or perhaps some questionable behaviour. With any illness, we always bring our loved ones under the shelter of prayer. Perhaps we could we reach them by selecting one of their favourite Bible verses daily and asking the Holy Spirit to infuse the words into their minds for a fleeting remembrance. We may not see the results of this prayer, but it will be a blessing to us just to know that we are not without resources against this invasion of our loved one's mind. If our mothers have passed on, to honour them, our memories of them could be told to our children, and our mother's special personality could be shared with our children's children, so that each generation may be part of an unbroken chain of love and memories.

Prayer: Our gracious heavenly Father, because You made such elaborate provision in selecting the mother for Your Son during His earthly sojourn, we know that our mothers were not chosen at random, but as an important part of Your plan for our lives. Help us, Father, to make a Mothering Sunday out of every day of the week, in either prayer or memory. Thank You, Father, for the indescribable gift of memory. Amen.

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Vena Poole

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