So about that mother’s day…
On this particular (and peculiar) Mother’s Day, we crossed the path to our dear outdoor tarp- covered Gospel Light Fellowship. We sang a few songs and then Pastor J asked all the moms to stand. 10 was the first count, then 11, a few more came down the path and at the end we may have numbered 14 or so. Anyway, we received our applause and sat down.
Then J’s mother, Anna, stood up. First she said that God had blessed her as a mother and she named her three children. Jepeth, Philma and Gloria. And so I named my children in my thoughts. Philip, Zach, Emily, Sky, Olivia……the greatest blessings in my life. Husband also, of course.
Then Anna said she had a song she wanted to sing for all the mothers. In this church we speak English and Pidgin and often both in the same sentence. Anna’s song was in English and I would have labeled it cheesy and well, country. Not my favorite genre.
But it had some truth in it for all that. No matter if the country flavor did not fit in with our tropical flip flopped and barefoot small group in shorts, meri blouses, cotton shirts and nary a cowboy hat! The message of the song is universal. I see it in Anna who loves her three children every bit as much as I love my five. And even though we both are grandmothers now and our children are grown, that mother’s love still grips our hearts. On this, mitupela i wankain. We two are the same.
As Anna began to sing, the already bright morning sun was shining on the green leaves and brilliantly colored flowers that surrounded our meeting place. In the distance were palm trees, banana bushes and all kinds of tropical plants. Standing by her green plastic chair in her colorful meri blouse with her dark hair pulled back in a bun Anna looked every bit the lovely meri of this tropical island country that she is. She sang the song (with a bit of a twang) dedicated to all the mothers there and it did make me chuckle at how seemingly out of place it was in this culture and setting. It was, nevertheless, a comfort to me.
In heaven, mamas don’t cry
In heaven nobody dies
In heaven God will wipe away the tears from our eyes
In heaven, mamas don’t cry.
Unbidden (and surprising me) the tears came. The truth is that here on this earth we mamas do cry. We labor in childbirth and we labor thereafter in love. Both Anna and I have prayed and cried over children sick with malaria or struggling with their faith or suffering in other ways. Anna prayed with tears for a wayward son; he is now a pastor. I prayed with tears for Olivia during her illness and treatment and God gave her a faith that comforts me still. Sorrow, longing, joy and hope are all part of our lives in this fallen world and we mothers feel every bit of it. But the time will come when the God of the universe will wipe away all tears, there will be no more sin and struggle and death – and we mamas won’t cry.
After the service I gave Anna a hug and thanked her for her words and song. ‘I prayed that I could sing that song without crying’, she said sincerely, ‘I just wanted to sing it for the mothers.’
‘That’s ok, Anna’, I replied, ’I cried for both of us.’ She smiled and thanked me. In the sisterhood of mothers we speak the same language. And as she told me later, quoting another song, (southern gospel, I think – her taste in music is more versatile than mine),’Tears are a language God understands.’
I’m grateful for Anna. Though I have known her only a short time, she has become my poro, my friend and now my namba wan favorite country singer.
God surprised me this Mother’s Day with an unexpected country song in the middle of the rain forest. A week later, I’m still smiling.