Mom, You Can Sit Down Now
The day has finally arrived when you no longer have to stand up for hours on end in the checkout line. The truth is, you’ve been standing up for years,
perhaps more than you realized.
When you were a child, thought it didn’t seem so at the time, you were learning the hard way how to stand tall in the face of hardship and abuse.
When you started a family of your own, you stood firm in your conviction that the cycle of abuse would be broken forever. And I, and your grandchildren, thank you sincerely for that gift.
Your moral compass never wavered, and you stood for the values of love and compassion, coupled with sweat and sacrifice, which are values that inform my life today.
In church and Sunday school when Donny and I were boys, you were proud to “Stand Up, Stand Up for Jesus” to quote the words of the old Baptist hymn. We were soldiers for the cause, even driving our lawn tractor in the Fairland Baptist Church Bible School parade, towing grandma’s trailer with one of our rabbits in a cage next to the sign urging passersby to “Hop to it – Go to vacation Bible School.” While our religious paths may have diverged as I grew to adulthood, the true meaning of what you taught us was to stand for something larger than yourself, to stand on the side of peace and justice. After all, you can’t embrace the world from a sitting position.
You have always stood tall in the face of adversity—a broken heart, and a broken marriage, yes, but a broken home, never. You stood up for what you believed in and followed your heart to Ohio to better learn how you could help save the world. Or maybe how the world could save you. But either way, you stood up to be counted among those who wanted to commit their lives to a greater purpose, to spread the message of hope and goodwill to all who would stand up and follow.
You stood on the side of love and family when you decided to put down roots in Missouri, though standing tall was sometimes a challenge in the steep foothills of Franklin County. After finding your balance, you stood firmly once again on the side of family, and were able to see your grandchildren grow up and to know their hearts and their characters. Perhaps you see a little of yourself in them. If nothing else, you may see the unlimited possibilities for what their lives may become, reaping a rich harvest from the seeds you planted long ago. Planting is something else you can’t do sitting down.
But your transplantation to the West didn’t stop your thirst for ministering to a hurting and needy world. For you realize a minister is what you’ve become. Most visibly, you ministered to the rocks and weeds on the lonely hillside next to your apartment building and brought forth an explosion of color and beauty that has inspired more people than you may ever know. You ministered to friends, customers and coworkers, bearing witness to the power of hope and healing. And with your new website, you are now a minister to all the world. Never giving up, but giving outward instead.
But standing tall, and standing for hours on end at the cash register, can take its toll. All the standing, for all the years, has asked much of your body and mind.
And so, as the law of heaven and the universe dictates, it’s time for a change and a new beginning.
Mom, you can sit down now.
Take the time to sit and reflect, and love and cry and praise, and then get up and dance if you want to. Dancing doesn’t count as standing. Sit down and pour out your truth onto the clean white pages of your poetry notebook, which long to be filled with your left-handed writing. Sit down and get to know your grandchildren as they cross the threshold to adulthood. Sit down to enjoy a meal with family and friends, without the stress of a deadline to put on the work clothes. And sit down just to be present to your thoughts and to the wonders of the universe, and to distill those thoughts into gemstones for the rest of us to discover and put in our pockets as we make our own way through life.
No, you’re not done doing your part to lift up the world and to heal your own broken places. But now you can do it at your own pace. I hope your new retired life will not mean retirement from the world but only retirement from too much standing up. I hope you’ll take the time to sit here on this new patio, which welcomes you to come and sit anytime in this new chair dedicated to you.
May God bless and watch over your standing up and sitting down for many years to come. I wish you all the best for a happy and healthy retirement. Someday soon I’ll look forward to talking with you about how life and the world look from where you sit.
Happy retirement, Mom.
July 8, 2012
Webster Groves, Missouri