In this week’s Take Your Time Tuesday video, Douglas Koch leads a chant with singing bowls of the first word of the Lord’s Prayer, “Abwoon,” followed by Jean Chandler explaining the fullness of the meaning of “Abwoon.”
In Haiti, Mother’s Day is the last Sunday of May, so this year, it was last weekend on May 31st. Usually there is a big production at the Filles de Marie Reine Immaculèe school that the Chilmark Community Church sponsors in Lilavois, Haiti. All the parents come to watch the kids put on performances that they have been practicing for weeks.
The very day I am starting to write this little note, my wife and I were scheduled to fly to the States, ride the bus to Woods Hole, and hopefully catch the last ferry for our yearly six-week visit to the Vineyard. Somehow, this fact has brought us to reminisce about the many experiences there, over 40 years’ worth in my case, a lifetime’s in hers. One has stayed on our minds as particularly meaningful, and as one that paradigmatically defines for us the people of Chilmark. Over the years we have come to appreciate how kind and caring the local society is, and, as a remarkable feature, how lovingly they take care of their elders.
In 1947 my wife’s grandparents bought a property in Chilmark. It included a “quaint little house” (as it is identified in “Martha’s Vineyard — A Short History,” edited by Eleanor Ransom Mayhew) that, to my city-boy’s amazement, had been moved twice before being “deposited” in its beautiful present location, on a little grassy knoll within earshot of Fulling Mill Brook. By the early ’80s, my parents-in-law had taken up full-time residence there. My wife and I, with our two young children, would strive to visit them once a year, usually in December.
Both our daughter and our son had grown particularly fond of spending the Christmas season on the Island. Grandparents’ doting, carols, a beautifully decorated fir tree with tons of colorfully wrapped toys left by Santa under it, and more often than not, snow on which to sled, build snowmen, and have snowball fights were just some of the highlights that did not exist back home, at least not with the same intensity.
My mother, a recent widow, then in her early 80s, had come along with our family of four for the 1990 visit, and was also staying with my in-laws. She spoke no English, but was having a grand time with her extended family. It was not her first visit, and she had already grown very fond of the Island.
In the wee hours of one morning, we heard her talking incoherently in her bed. She was very agitated, and could not generate any meaningful sounds. We immediately called the emergency number, from a rotary-dial phone that is still being used in the house today. In retrospect, it seems that the ambulance arrived even before we hung up the phone. Some of our acquaintances were among the crew, but there was no time for platitudes. They quickly reached the correct diagnosis (diabetic coma), and immediately took the appropriate steps. They saved her life.
She was taken to the M.V. Hospital, where she was in critical condition.
So far this story, while remarkable, is not terribly unusual. EMT volunteers routinely save a lot of lives. What happened next is what lingers in my memory as characteristic and defining of Chilmarkers. The following Sunday, at the proposal of one of the volunteers who had come to the house as part of the ambulance crew, the congregation of the Chilmark Community Church offered a prayer for her recovery, for someone they hardly knew. The following day, Arlene Bodge, Chilmark’s pastor at that time, and some members of her congregation went to the hospital to visit my mother, brought her flowers, and spent quite a while chatting with her — who knows in what language. Also, starting the very same day she was taken to the hospital, several friends, and some other people that we hardly knew, kept coming by the house and calling by telephone, offering to help in any way they could.
For many years, my mother kept coming back to Chilmark with us, and she enjoyed every minute of it.
My mother lived to be 100, and, in spite of some of the usual short-term memory problems of advanced age, she remembered this little story all her life. I still do.
Spain (and Chilmark)
This is beautiful music. Recommend.
If you think that “Abba” is simply a musical group, we encourage you to take some time today to discover the true meaning of “Abba” in this week’s “Take Your Time Tuesday” video by Rev. Dr. Stephanie Rutt. (click the thumbnail below to access)
“Abba” is the Aramaic term for “Father” or “Daddy”, and when prayed during hard times like we are experiencing now, “Abba, I belong to you” becomes a wonderful prayer exercise to remind us that we belong to God and that we are not alone.
A Mother’s Day Prayer…
“Children are a gift from the Lord; they are a reward from him.” Psalm 127:3 (NLT)
“Before I formed you in the womb, I knew you; Before you were born, I sanctified you;
I ordained you a prophet to the nations.” Jeremiah 1:5 (N KJV)
As this new day unfolds, I want to pause and thank you for all the mothers of this world; the memories of our mothers, the faithful mothers of the present, and the mothers of the future. I pray that you remind mothers who have given birth and those who have raised children they did not birth that you are always with them.
During these challenging times of physical distancing and uncertainty, let us not forget the many scarifies our mothers have made over the years. Let our mothers persevere and not give up because their current situation seems bleak. Grant the mothers of the world the courage and strength to keep on climbing as encouraged in this poem by Langston Hughes,
Mother to Son
Well, son, I’ll tell you:
Life for me ain’t been no crystal stair.
It’s had tacks in it,
And boards torn up,
And places with no carpet on the floor—
But all the time
I’se been a-climbin’ on,
And reachin’ landin’s,
And turnin’ corners,
And sometimes goin’ in the dark
Where there ain’t been no light.
So boy, don’t you turn back.
Don’t you set down on the steps
’Cause you finds it’s kinder hard.
Don’t you fall now—
For I’se still goin’, honey,
I’se still climbin’,
And life for me ain’t been no crystal stair.
Thank you, God, for our mothers; thank you for their strength of character and their love for you. Bless them with long life and satisfy them with the desires of their hearts and they diligently seek after you.
May the Lord bless our Mothers and keep them;
The Lord make His face shine upon our Mothers,
And be gracious to them; May the Lord lift up His countenance upon all Mothers,
And give them peace. (Adapted from Numbers 6:24-26)
A Blessed Happy Mother’s Day!!!
The daffodils have begun to bloom at Rolling Ridge. Spring has sprung. And while the sounds of birds now fill the air, the house and grounds are quiet as we like everyone else wait for the good news that the darkness of COVID-19 has passed and our doors can open again. During these times of uncertainty and waiting, it can be hard to be present and thankful for what is as we long for what is yet to come.
In this week’s “Take Your Time Tuesday” video, John Kiemele offers us the spiritual practice of Embodied Gratefulness to help us live into the now and to celebrate the blessings of God in this present moment. When we begin to feel gratitude through the fullness of our body, we wake up to the Divine Presence of God in and around us now. We encourage you to slow down, click the link or the image below for the video, and take time for yourself to be centered in God and to be thankful. May this practice become part of your daily spiritual routine so you do not grow weary and lose hope.
connects to a meditation on Embodied Gratefulness.