As a kindergarten kid, walking home the few blocks from school, I would pick flowers from the front yards I passed and give them to my mother when I got home. My gesture was both an inappropriate act of vandalism to neighbors’ gardens and a truly appropriate act of spontaneous giving to the mother of my life.
A friend of mine told me of a potted plant on his front porch that was stolen on Mother’s Day, presumably as a gift for the thief’s mom. (Some mama must’ve been so proud …)
From clumpy clay sculptures no one knows what they are intended to represent, including the kids who fashioned them, to trite Dayspring cards with a few hastily scribbled sentiments, Mother’s Day is the one day a year where the ugly, the thoughtless, and the hurried become the accepted and the cherished through the alchemy of motherhood.
Billy Collins, former poet laureate of the United States, wrote a poem about going to summer camp and thoughtlessly weaving a lanyard which he later gave to his mother. I’ve read it so many times, I almost have it memorized without trying to do so.
In the poem, Collins captures the absurd paltriness of our attempts to say “thank you” to our mothers for what they have done for us. But he does more than that. He points out the graciousness of mothers to receive our lame offerings as if they equaled everything they had poured out on us.
The things we offer our mothers (and God) for all we have received from them should be insulting. “You’re giving me that after all I’ve done for and given to you?!” And sometimes our thoughtlessness is truly hurtful. But mothers (and God) have this amazing ability to not only forgive the insult, but to actually turn it upside down and find the gift inside of it.
This is what grace looks like.