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Mother’s Day, 2016

This is what we do, my mother’s life said.  We find ourselves in the sacrifices we make.

Cammie McGovern

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It seems that as I have gotten older more people compliment me for something that I might have done for them or another person, or for a comment I made which helped them sort out a difficulty or gain an understanding that they had not yet discovered or come to comprehend.

Such an encounter always prompts me to say “thank you” but then this: “if you have anything good to say about me, it is because of my mother, my grandmother and others in my family loved me, taught be how to live, encouraged me, and mediated the love of God in my life.”

I often add, “My mother saved my life.”  I probably should add – the way her mother and father saved her life.

There is an adage in psychology concerning parenting and it is this: for a child to do well in life they need at least one “good-enough” parent – one parent who loves them and treats them with primary importance.

If that is so, I had not a “good-enough” parent, but a Hall of Fame mother.

My mother was a single parent.  I was an only child.  We shared everything in life – all its challenges.  By the time I was 12 both of my maternal grandparents where dead and my mother and I were a sail in our small boat on a pretty large sea, a dark and deep sea.

We shared the storms and winds, the sun and heat, the uncertainties, poverty, laughter, apprehensions, the work, faith, likes and dislikes, ups and downs, chores, food, conversation – everything.

I never saw my mother ever put her needs or desires before me – ever.

She was a person, small in frame – but large in heart – and literally unbeatable in life.  She was determined and yet humble, without any inflated ideas about herself, or wild expectations about the world.

She was a realist who believed in God and His constant goodness and presence. She was positive that a person could always excel – no matter the odds and the headwinds.

She was most of all loving and had faith in God (which I am sure fortified her resolve and explained her endless font of love).

Love was powerfully planted in her, so rooted in her heart that speaking of it was hard, it brought tears to her eyes – so I often got “the note” that said so much you saved it and re-read it often.  I am sure she cried writing it.  Love touched her deeply, as God does.

People think that poverty is crippling.  It is not.  Surely it is not if you have a mother like my mother.  Truth is – I would not be writing this blog or have had the life I have been blessed to live had I not been my mother’s son.

How good was she?  She was my mother and my father – with equal shares of tenderness and loving toughness.

So I say today as I say everyday: “Mom, I love you.  Keep watching over me.” Saying this, I always get a lump in my throat and a tear in my eyes just like my mother did.

Happy Mother’s Day to All.

Shalom.

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Of all things that man has … his soul is the most divine and truly his own.

Plato, in Laws, Bk. VI

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Robert J. Samuelson, an economics reporter for The Washington Post, wrote a column in the March 28, 2016, edition of that newspaper in which he asserted, in contradiction to Donald Trump’s words, that the United States is not a poorer country than it once was.

In Mr. Samuelson’s response he makes the case that we are still a wealthy country and does so convincingly by using valid measures and putting our recent economic history into context.  Yes, I think he is correct in what he says – but not astute.  Nor is Mr. Trump astute in his articulation that we are “a poor country now” if one takes these words to be limited to economics.

In the law we might say thinking literally about Trump’s comments focuses us on a “red herring,” chases the wrong thing.

So what am I saying?  I am saying that Mr. Trump, perhaps unbeknownst to himself, has tapped into another kind of poverty being experienced by those to whom he has appeal.

The discontent that Trump’s supporters convey is a spiritual poverty – a loss of identity, security, relationship, morality, stability, community, family ethos, the institution of marriage, humility, normative gender relations, patriotism, love of country, optimism, liberty, reliance on constrained and predictable reading of the U.S. Constitution, trust in the federal government and other once venerable institutions, access to and respect for work and a welcomed place for religious faith in this culture.

It is the loss of these things that make us poor and register as our poverty today.  For our wealth is in our sacred beliefs, in the Divine and our relationship with God and when we lose that, when that is attacked and under siege – we lose confidence and contentment dissipates, our soul is put to hazard.

When the Spirit wanes our soul lives as if in a cold, dark cave.  That, Dear Friends, is the poverty in play – that is at the bottom of the widespread discontent and worry among us.

That, not trade or economics, fuels the anxiety and unhappiness we see expressed today.

My advice: remember prayer is the voice of the soul, and prayer speaks with heart not words … yet, words are a reassuring comfort for those who pray.

Shalom.

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