Tuesday, June 12, 2007


Today is my mom’s birthday. And since she’s starting to make her way around the World Wide Web, I figure that a blog in her honor is only appropriate.

Unbeknownst to her, I entered a short essay in a Mother’s Day writing contest. Naturally, the woman who won had the advantage of having a dead mother (much more sentimental; I’m not really complaining. At ALL).

This was my entry:

My Mother’s Eyes

I can’t remember if she held my hand. I can’t remember if she whispered anything in my ear. I do remember her sitting beside me as I tried to think of something to say to the girl behind the thick glass wall; the girl who looked so plain, so sad.

When I was born, there were boarders living at my house. Throughout most of my childhood, our guest rooms were inhabited by a rotating assortment of personalities: the young, the poor, the lonely, and the fascinating.

For a few brief months, our extra beds were occupied by Scott and Jessica*. My mother, her hands already sufficiently full with three young children, had inadvertently adopted a young, dysfunctional homeless couple. And when Jessica was arrested for one of her many petty crimes, my mom and I headed to jail to visit her.

Jail may not be the most obvious mother/daughter field trip option, but I thought nothing strange of it. If my mother could sign in so matter-of-factly at the security-surrounded front desk, surely it was no big deal.

My mom has an amazing cross-section of friends. It’s not because she’s a charismatic social butterfly, nor is it because she desires to be the center of attention. My mother is the most authentic woman I know. She isn’t shocked easily, she listens without judgment, she doesn’t smother or boss or offer sound bytes of sugar-coated Christianese.

There’s a light about her that attracts the broken, lonely and poor. Maybe it’s because she would sooner offer a meal and a laugh than pity. Maybe it’s because she’s not afraid of speaking the hard truth when a lie would be easier to hear.

When I was in university, my roommate would often ask, “What would your mom do?” fully confident that whatever my mother’s decision, it would be God-approved. My mom is the mother many wished they had: a genuine, refreshing, unpretentious woman of God, ready at any moment to both pray with you and dance around the living room to the amusement and embarrassment of her family.

I’ll never forget that first trip to jail. We later joked that the trip was intended as a deterrent to my pursuing a life of crime, but it was a far more important experience than that. The beautiful girl who lived down the hall from my bedroom was now a sad shell, awkwardly embarrassed by the presence of the little girl who loved her. And when my mother looked at Jessica, she didn’t see the glass, the captivity or the crime. My mother saw the child, the brokenness, the soul.

My mother looked at her with the eyes of Jesus. And when people say I have my mother’s eyes, I only pray that it may be true.

*names have been changed.

Happy birthday, Mom. I love you.

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