The crushed stone crunched beneath our feet as we walked between the rows of plants. Sunlight, diffused by the plastic that sheltered us from the cool May wind, warmed the greenhouse and intensified the throaty smell of geraniums and tender green plants.
“Want to ride on my back for a little while?” I turned and asked my just-turned-five-year-old nephew.
“Yeah. Yeah. Yeah.” His words came out in excited staccatos. I knelt down on the stones and he wrapped his arms around my neck, a feeling of which I will never grow tired, and groaned as I lifted him up. “I want to ride on your back for a long time,” he said, indicating that he did not think this situation needed to be temporary.
“Well, we’ll see how long I can last carrying you, because you’re getting big,” I said, feeling the weight of his body on my back as we continued to weave our way through the greenhouse.
Plants and children, perhaps the foremost features of a well-celebrated Mother’s Day, have much in common. They require nurturing – a word that has remained in my mind ever since I read this blog post. According to Google, the word nurture means “the process of caring for and encouraging the growth or development of someone or something.” Children and plants require food and water and sunlight and fresh air to grow. Sometimes they have thorns and hurt those who are lovingly caring for them. They have specific needs that must be met in order for them to flourish, but they cannot meet those needs on their own. They need someone else to meet those needs – they need to be nurtured.
We can all nurture those around us. And perhaps the most beautiful, life-giving way for anyone to nurture, that which our mothers do for us beginning at birth and from then on every day of our lives, is to give life out of pain. Out of gasping breathless pain she gives you your first breath. Out of her fear she gives you courage. Out of her worry she gives you security. Out of her depression she gives you joy. Out of her weariness she gives you strength. Out of her confusion she gives you clarity. Out of her hunger she gives you food. Because she went through it she fights so you don’t have to. And that is exactly what Jesus did for us on the cross, friends. He experienced separation from God the Father, hell, so we don’t have to if we choose relationship with God through Jesus. Out of His death He gave us life. So this thing that our mothers do so well for us, this thing any of us can do for anyone else, this nurturing, this process that we can see acted out in the rows of cared-for, growing green plants that we buy to beautify our gardens and give to our mom, is all an imitation of what our Savior does for us every day, because He created us to grow.
So, as the abovementioned blog post recommended, go thank someone who has nurtured you – someone who shared a conversation, a kind word, a smile, a hug, a meaningful gift, a helping hand, an answer to a question – someone who took the time to give you a piece of their lives to help you flourish.
To my mom, thank you for the million and one ways you have nurtured me throughout the years. Thank you for praying that I would exist someday. Thank you for proving the doctor wrong when he wondered how the blankity-blank you were going to nurse a premie every single hour for the first month of my life. Thank you for reading the piles of Little Golden Books to me that I dragged back to your bed every day at naptime. Thank you for giving me healthy food to eat. Thank you for teaching me how to brush my teeth, answer the phone and not to point at people in the store. Thank you for giving my Cabbage Kid Dolls voices and for talking for them while you cooked and cleaned and canned and sewed and were trying to go to sleep at night. Thank you for letting me fall asleep in bed with you and for letting me come back in the middle of the night when the coyotes were howling. Thank you for teaching me how to read and write and never, ever once getting impatient with me when I was in school. Thank you for letting me see the anger in your eyes when I did wrong. Thank you for bawling me out so bad when you caught me cheating on a test that I would never ever in my life ever dare to cheat again. Thank you for teaching me about God and that spending time with Him is the most important thing I could do every day of my life. Thank you for giving me your wisdom and for giving me freedom to make my own decisions. Thank you for praying with me. Thank you for praying for me. Thank you for life, Mom.
And thank You Jesus for giving my Mom life so that she could give me life.