Mother Wore Green

St. Patrick’s Day

Saturday of the Third Week of Lent

St. Patrick was my mother’s one and only saint. Born a Quaker, she didn’t pray to saints, at least not that she let any of us know, but being born on St. Patrick’s Day was different. You could claim that saint. And his shamrocks. And like any good Irish-Catholic mother, you could have a lot of children: she birthed seven.

Today she would have been 97.

 My mother’s maternal great-grandmother, a Moravian from New Salem, emigrated across the country in a covered wagon. There were no churches in Kansas, no communities either and the family stories say my great-grandfather was the first white child born in Jewell County, Kansas. The family eventually became Quakers but carried the Moravian motto, “In essentials unity; in non-essentials, liberty; and in all things love.”

In our various and oddly encumbered ways, mother’s children have lived that motto.

Mother’s father was a telegrapher on the Missouri Pacific Railroad and when they moved to Frankfort, Kansas for him to take up duties there, Mother was only five. She made friends with a little Black boy “down the street,” and her father, who came from the Blue Mountains of Kentucky and not a Quaker, disapproved. But undeterred, she kept the friendship as she grew up and went to school.

We never heard judgments against peoples or races or life-styles as we were growing up. Which sort of led to varying degrees of wildness in all of us at one time or another, but we were always accepted when we came home and the various friends/partners/ boyfriends were also accepted.

She might make an oblique reference, “Isn’t he/she………” but that was about it. And she might fight with us, and did; but I don’t remember hearing judgments.

None of my siblings judge either. We’ve done a lot of other angry and destructive things, but judgment isn’t there from our parents or each other. None of us are supportive of wars, either, for that matter. Our children weren’t taught with judgments, so now we are a proud multi-cultured, multi-colored family.

Which then leads me to wonder if a “mentality” can be inherited or if it’s conditioning. Are we pacifists because our mother was, or are we pacifists because of our long line of Moravians and Quakers?

Happy Birthday, Happy St. Patrick’s Day Mother. Thank you for integrating an Irish Roman Catholic into our family. You made him ours in a particular and heart-felt way.


Judging Laws

        Monday of the First Week of Lent

This morning’s reading is from Leviticus. the Book of Laws. In fact, 27 chapters of laws.

That’s a lot of laws!

And I pondered how often one or two laws from that book get pulled out and emphasized to the exclusion of all others.

That’s often what we do with religion: we scrape off the piece we want and leave the rest behind.

For example, throughout Leviticus, the injunction to “fear God” arises. People say it a lot, but I always wonder what that means. “Fear God” because of possible punishment? Possible destruction? Why would I want to follow a God who promised destruction and punishment?

Perhaps, I though, my idea of fear was misplaced. Perhaps it meant something. These Leviticus laws were written thousands of years ago, perhaps as many as 5 or 6 thousand. So I looked up the word “fear” in my trusty American Heritage Dictionary which led me to the Indo-European root per (Indo-European being the earliest root of many languages).

Per, as you might imagine after all these centuries, has a developed into many words, but at base were movement words, including to walk all the way around as if you were walking around a mountain. I like the idea that “fear God” means to walk around God, to look at God from many angles and many different sides. To see the Holy from many different perspectives.

If we really saw the holy from many different directions, it might be hard to judge others for their behavior.

Today, practice looking at others’ behaviors from many different angles. Today, notice where an automatic judgment arises.

Is it difficult to substitute looking for judging?