Last night, my husband asked me what my plan is for Lent. I told him I'm taking a chance and will try and fulfill this 40 Days With My Mother reflection idea. I'll share my voice of a traveler who doesn't have it all figured out. I won't pretend I have it all figured out. I also don't want to flood the atmosphere of inboxes and social media with ramblings of nonsense and a false image. I'm striving for a feast of real conversation based on the truth of realistic experience. Anything else, he asked?
I thought about it some more as I drove to my book club.
I know I've tried to stay extra busy since my mom died, but this isn't who I truly am. Busy doesn't usually work for me and only causes chaos with the missed opportunity to live. I've been trying to look closely at how I'm spending my time, and yes, I could adjust some things and give up being busy.
When my friend offered me a glass of wine at book club, I told her I had a fleeting thought on the way over to give up wine for Lent. We looked more closely at each other and paused at the thought. Exactly. Why would I give up sharing a bottle of wine with my fellow readers, or at a birthday celebration, or a special occasion that falls during these 40 days? Sips and bites of togetherness feed me at a time when I crave fellowship.
The same goes for a hundred other things done in moderation. For my personality, anything extreme would only make me a crabbier person right now. Who wants to be around that?
To say that is to know myself and to know myself is to tell you that I've been in the desert during my mom's significant five-year decline due to Alzheimer's. It's been like a five year Lent. God bless those who experience one longer. I know very well that other people are walking through the wilderness of hard and desolate situations. Wouldn't it be lovely if we all had someone who would calmly take our hand and lead us through it? Hold us in it? Love us as it passes?
The sand in the desert of a thousand reasons isn't soft to walk on, and the hole of loneliness can feel miles deep. What is it that even with people around you, you can still feel so isolated? Or that you're sinking in quicksand? Or your spirit has dimmed to darker than the sunset? What do you do during Lent when you are already experiencing a lent?
Perhaps the scenario would go like this - a spiritual advisor would most likely tell me to pray because maybe this isn't the time to give up or do any more than what already is. I love the wise transition of thought to do things that make us better human beings not only for ourselves but for those we encounter; actions that set humanity on the course for the greater good. This great empathetic person would tell me that there is no right or wrong way to pray, and no checklist to cross off with a red marker; no destination where I need to be sitting for a specific amount of time other than the dwelling of my heart for the Great One to hear me. But, in the void of my heart, there might be a soft cry expressing that I can't pray. Maybe I think I don't know how or know where to start. Words simply don't come to me. I perhaps question if prayer works and stop before I begin because how do I know if someone will hear me? Then out of nowhere, the Great One comes to my rescue because there was, at least, a motion towards Him. He offers music of all things because He knew I heard too much silence. Lyrics meet my cry; after all, they are sung by longing hearts also. Words, stir my soul in a way that lifts me out of the most bottomless hole of quicksand to see the sunrise. I listen again and again and again. Before I know it, I have a healing prayer, hand-delivered to me to hold me. Oh, the power and small step toward the dance of spring.
Hold those who suffer in body, mind, and spirit and uplift the people who put their lives on hold to take care of them. Embrace those who experience the desert during and after caregiving or any life challenge. If loneliness sets in, send them a prayer through music, painting, writing, or theater to restore the dance of their heart and soul.
Holy Mother by Eric Clapton has become a healing prayer for me. Here is a YouTube link for a version he sings with Luciano Pavarotti:
It is also on Spotify. I will add the lyrics below.
Holy Mother, where are you?
Tonight I feel broken in two.
I've seen the stars fall from the sky.
Holy mother, can't keep from crying.
Oh I need your help this time,
Get me through this lonely night.
Tell me please which way to turn
To find myself again.
Holy mother, hear my prayer,
Somehow I know you're still there.
Send me please some peace of mind;
Take away this pain.
I can't wait, I can't wait, I can't wait any longer.
I can't wait, I can't wait, I can't wait for you.
Holy mother, hear my cry,
I've cursed your name a thousand times.
I've felt the anger running through my soul;
All I need is a hand to hold.
Oh I feel the end has come,
No longer my legs will run.
You know I would rather be
In your arms tonight
When my arms no longer play,
My voice is still, I fade away.
Holy Mother, then I'll be
Lying in, safe within your arms.