REFLECTIONS & ENCOURAGEMENTS: understanding and growing through the covid-19 challenge.
Bishop Peter Brain Reflection 11: Mothers, grandmothers and the rest of us!
With mother’s day coming up and the difficulties of catching up in person with families made even more challenging under covid-19, I thought it would be good to share an African mother’s prayer for her children and a poignant description of grandmothers from a 9 year old.
Firstly the prayer: Now the children are asleep, my Lord. I am tired and would spend a half hour in stillness with Thee. I want to bathe my soul in thy infinity, like the workingmen who plunge into the surf to shed the dust and sweat of their labours. Let my burning heart feel thy ever-renewing power; let my clouded spirit be lost in the crystal clarity of thy wisdom; heal my unworthy love in the waters of thy love which is so true, steady and deep.
O Lord, I couldn’t stand being a mother one more day if I thought I had to account for all my faults. I am all sin. My love walks over my wisdom. But I love my children. I know that their little seeing eyes see through me, right to my soul, that they imitate me. Help me, O Lord, to be good in the deepest of my intentions, good in all my desires. Make of me what I wish my children to be, with a heart that is strong, true and great.
Help me not to be annoyed by the little things. Give me the large view of things, a sense of proportion so that I can truly judge what is important and what is not. Lend me strength to be a real mother to my children, knowing how to turn right their souls and their imagination, knowing how to help them to unfold their dreams and care for their bodies
Guard them against evil and let them grow up healthy and pure. This I ask in the Name of our Lord, Jesus Christ. Amen
Then the 9 year old on What is a Grandmother? (I first came across this in one of James Dobson’s books in the late 1970’s, she is possibly a grandma herself now).
“A grandmother is a lady who has no children of her own. She likes other people’s little girls and boys. A grandfather is a man grandmother.
Grandmothers don’t have to do anything except be there. They’re old, so they don’t have to play hard or run. It is enough if they take us to the shops where the pretend horse is and have lots of coins ready. Or if they take us for walks, they should slow down past things like pretty leaves or caterpillars. They should never say ‘hurry up’.
Usually grandmothers are fat, but not too fat to tie your shoes. They wear glasses and funny underwear. They can take their teeth out and gums off. Grandmothers don’t have to be smart, only answer questions like ‘Why isn’t God married?’ And ‘How come dogs chase cats?’ They don’t talk baby-talk like visitors do, because it is hard to understand. When they read to us they don’t skip words, or mind if it is the same story over and over again.
Everyone should try to have a grandmother, especially if you don’t have television, because they are the only grownups who have time”.
I expect that you have may have seen the grandmother story before but may not have heard the prayer of the African mother. If you are like me you have found them moving and challenging.
The sting in the tail of the 9 year old’s observation ‘they are the only grownups who have time’ hits me between the eyes, whilst her words encourage me to do all I can to grasp the opportunities to be a friend to my grandchildren. Hopefully, this may complement my children’s efforts, as they work hard to raise their children.
How wonderful to be reminded of the way we can pray for our adult children in their parenting responsibilities and for each of our grandchildren. No-one can stop us praying for them, even if, as sadly happens from time to time, we are forbidden to speak to our grandies of our Lord. Here is a special ministry that can help us handle the sadness of dislocated relationships and to span the distances of living in different cities, states and nations. There is a special challenge for us men, ‘us men grandmothers’, to be similarly patient, and for dad’s to not only engage in prayer for their children but to create time for our wives to be able to pray along the lines of the African woman.
There is an African proverb that reminds us ‘that it takes a whole village to raise a child’ and it is often said that love is spelt t_i_m_e. Unhurried time is a great gift we can give to children (and each other). Time given in prayer is perhaps the greatest gift of love any of us can give to another (whether we see them regularly or not at all).
Peter Brain 7th May, 2020