The one thing I want my children to remember most about me, is how much I have loved. How much I have loved them, loved others, and loved God. I want them to think of me as someone who gives herself fully, faithfully, and generously without holding back.
“There is nothing more beautiful than a mother loving her child into goodness, and nothing we need more urgently.”
I was recently moved by these words of Rev. Samuel J. Aquila, who in speaking on the feminine genius and the genius of motherhood described the practice of raising children as “literally growing goodness in spite of incredible obstacles.” Aquila was inspired by the work of Mother Mary, who has transformed many cultures through her apparitions. He realized that this unique gift endowed to women is the gift of cultivating seeds of beauty.
Two reflections came to mind, considering the relation of my own motherhood and the motherhood that many of us strive, and the particular image of “growing” goodness in spite of obstacles.
Anyone who has struggled with actually getting something to grow, from a garden to a cactus, might understand this. Not gifted with a green thumb myself, I have persevered in gardening despite the odds. And the odds it turns out are never in my favor! Squirrels, birds, bugs, too much water, too little water, too much sun, not enough sun, bad soil, overcrowding, weeds, etc. etc.
But then there is the gratification, the pride unlike any other reward when you pull your very own ripened red tomato off the vine. You have beat the soil and nature herself, you are at last the better woman! This growing of goodness in spite of incredible obstacles reminds me of the parable of the sower from Matthew 13. In fact, I don’t think I have found any better way to understand this parable before actually toiling in my own garden.
I guess the immediate question to be posed is why anyone would waste so much time and effort sowing and tending, when the obstacles threatening to destroy their labor are grossly unbalanced? The answer is found in the seed that is sown in the good soil, which takes root and yields a hundredfold. This abundant yield more than makes up for all the lost crop.
In relating this to the growing of goodness in our own children, a mother can be understood to be the gardener who tends and toils night and day in the formational garden of her children, in spite of incredible obstacles. She will stop at nothing to make sure the soil is good, the roots are deep, and the predators are kept far away. She will go to the end of her life and beyond with the mission to see to it that what she has sown has in fact yielded a hundredfold.
When I was a younger and more cynical version of myself, I looked at the world around me in light of the horrors of the nightly news, and I thought “Wow, how can anyone in good conscience bring a child into this world? How can anyone possibly stand a chance at goodness in spite of all the incredible obstacles out there?” My defeatist attitude allowed me to be sideswiped by the “obstacles” of the world, defeating all potential existence of goodness.
But the answers to these questions of propagation is found in the heart of the mother who loves her child into goodness. The mother who gives a gift that cannot be forced upon her child, threatened into the heart of her child, or coxed into their will. This love of the feminine genius is a great mystery placed in the heart of womankind. This love possesses a beauty that is extra-ordinary, reflective of the Divine love and mercy, and embodied in the Blessed Mother herself. Each mother prayerfully possesses the potential of this gift to be actualized in her relationships with her own children. A mother who loves and strives for goodness, communicating this desire deeply in the shared journey with her children will not be denied this gift. This mother plants her child in good soil, cultivates and labors in prayer, and this woman can love her children into goodness.
Motherhood is the art of finding potential, and fostering it. Motherhood is the craft of focusing on the good and trusting that the rest will fade away. Motherhood is the penetrating beauty of unwavering hope, and unflinching love. The feminine genius is the practice of literally growing goodness in spite of incredible obstacles.
-Archbishop Samuel J. Aquila
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