This is a true story of a Mother’s Sacrifice during the China Earthquake.
After the Earthquake had subsided, when the rescuers reached the ruins of a young woman’s house, they saw her dead body through the cracks. Her pose was somehow strange that she knelt on her knees like a person was worshiping; her body was leaning forward, and her two hands were supported by an object. The collapsed house had crushed her back and her head.
With so many difficulties, the leader of the rescue team put his hand through a narrow gap on the wall to reach the woman’s body. He was hoping that this woman could be still alive. However, the cold and stiff body told him that she had passed away for sure.
He and the rest of the team left this house and were going to search the next collapsed building. For some reason, the team leader was driven by a compelling force to go back to the ruined house of the dead woman. Again, he knelt down and eased his hand through the narrow cracks to search the little space under the dead body. Suddenly, he screamed with excitement,” A child! There is a child! “
The whole team worked together; carefully they removed the piles of ruined objects around the dead woman. There was a 3 months old little boy wrapped in a flowery blanket under his mother’s dead body. Obviously, the woman had made an ultimate sacrifice for saving her son. When her house was falling, she used her body to make a cover to protect her son. The little boy was still sleeping peacefully when the team leader picked him up.
The medical doctor came quickly to examine the little boy. After he opened the blanket, he saw a cell phone inside the blanket. There was a text message on the screen. It said, “If you can survive, you must remember that I love you.” This cell phone was passed around from one hand to another. Everybody that read the message wept. “If you can survive, you must remember that I love you.” Such is the mother’s love for her child!!
Such are the extraordinary lengths a mother will go for her beloved child. There are countless stories on this Mother’s Day to inspire and challenge us – and challenged we need to be in this often angry, violent world in which we live. When people of power and low on wisdom are confronted they use their power and might to subdue enemies or any who oppose them, and the innocents die.
This simple story is enacted in many ways and forms throughout our world as mothers seek to care for and protect their children, who are threatened or in danger. Some have the power of this woman to save her child whilst others look on helplessly as their children are sacrificed in warfare, indiscriminate violence, tragic accidents, illness and natural disasters. I have sat with mothers who have felt the deep and profound pain of losing their children – it is heart-wrenching. The child they felt grow and develop within them and whom they birthed, held, nursed, nurtured and loved has died and they were powerless to change anything. There are dreams shattered and questions that echo through the years, remaining unanswered. There is the deep and painful hole in their heart that will never fully heal.
In his song, Russians, Sting asks if Russians love their children too? This is the only thing that will save us from unnecessary and unwinnable war. In the context of the Cold War he asks similar questions of President Reagan and Premier Krushnev and suggests that if their children are loved, perhaps they won’t start nuclear strikes or sacrifice their kids for nothing. I wonder how the international conflicts we hear of and experience would go if mothers, especially the mothers of the children who will be sacrificed, had a say?
As we journey through Mother’s Day and ponder the prayer of Jesus (John 17:6-19) perhaps we may hear an alternative to violence, hatred and the conflict that does so much damage to innocent people’s lives. Through John’s gospel, Jesus invites people into a new and different way that is grounded in a freedom that comes from being loved and learning to love in return. He invites us to see the world in a non-dualistic way – that is not to look from the perspective of us and them, black and white, right and wrong, in and out, Muslims and Christians, east and west… Jesus invites us to look at the whole and to see ‘us’ so that we break down the barriers of ‘them’. Mothers see children and love them. They yearn for a life that is safe, free, loving, kind, gentle, challenging and fulfilling. Good mothers tend to see children as children and are deeply pained when any child is sacrificed. This is the attitude that Jesus engenders in us. His prayer in this passage ranges across protection, challenge and growth, hope, life, joy and for all people to know God deeply and profoundly.
I often wonder how world politics may be different if mothers were running nations? I also wonder how the budget would be different if mothers were able to put it together. Would there be more compassion, more mercy, more care of those who are weaker and vulnerable, and more generosity for the poor of the earth – the children who are dying from hunger, thirst, basic illnesses and so on?
When baptising a child and welcoming him/her into God’s family, I often reflect on what our hopes and dreams are for this child and for all our children. Mostly people want a world that is peaceful, inclusive, filled with love, joy, hope and where everyone has enough, and the beauty of the earth is maintained for all to enjoy. They want a world that is safe, secure and where their child(ren) can thrive and flourish. This is the world we all want, and it is the kind of world Jesus speaks of and his way is filled with these characteristics. His prayer invites us into a way that makes a difference, living hopefully and joyfully and including others into a gracious community. His prayer seeks unity and life in God for all people and that God would hold all in grace and love and never let us go. It is a prayer for freedom, life, hope and joy!
This is the world that mothers want for their children. As they hold their child they dream of a future that is wonderful, where the child has enough of the things they need – material, spiritual and emotional/psychological. This is a world that is possible if there is a will, a desire and the belief. It is a world where self-giving and loving another for who they are as a person loved by God is characteristic.
Mothers do the most extraordinary things for their children and give up of themselves much in order for their children to thrive. Jesus lived this life in self-giving, sacrificial love and invites us to participate in this counterintuitive, transformative way of life.
Happy Mother’s Day to all the mums and may God’s love touch all who have had a mother and lead us into this life of joy, grace, peace and love.