Monday, April 25, 2011

Easter Morning at my Mother's Bedside

There is nothing quite like the sounds, the smells and the sights of an Easter Vigil done well. And that's what I found this year at St Francis Church in Melbourne. You would expect it though from a church with a long and honoured tradition of great liturgy and an open door that sees peoples of diverse cultures and car choices gathered in prayer and song.

As we lifted the roof with the stirring "Halleluja" refrain from Charles Wesley's Christ the Lord is Risen Today I also carried with me the anxiety that brought back to the cities of my youth on this joyous day.

As Easter morning broke I boarded a train at Southern Cross Station to  spend  time with my mother who had been admitted to Geelong Hospital following a fall on Holy Thursday. At 84 years these admissions seem to be more regular.

Raise your joys and triumphs high, Hallelujah

The joys and triumphs of sonship endure over the years. I remember the triumph of the first time  I bought an item of clothing for myself and my dear socially conservative mother couldn't believe I had spent birthday money at some "hippie" shop rather than a respectable store like Myers or Roger David. We had shared some amazing moments of sheer joy as a musical loving women introduced her eldest son to live theatre when we would go to performances of the Geelong Repetory Theatre Company.

She was a product of Irish Catholicism and the  austerity of the post war era. Her first child would  embrace the spirit of the 60s reform of the world and religious structures and explore a sexuality that was never named in her cultural settings.

Love's redeeming work is done, Hallelujah
fought the fight, the battle won, Hallelujah

I wonder if I began grieving the loss of my mother from the moment the umbilical  chord was cut. Encouraging your child to grow  into their own person is every parent's wish and fear for their children. It is an act of redemption and an act of love that has left the scars of battles and clashes across a generation gap in my life.Now the gap has closed and two people sit in the silence of a hospital ward. My mother slips in and out of sleep with brief snippets of conversation. I sit with my memories my anxiety and the knowledge that "all will be well"

Ours the cross, the grave , the skies, Hallelujah

I gazed a the frail weakened body  that 58 years ago carried me with such energy hope and love. Today I realise that the time will soon approach when I will join my sister and brothers in carrying my mother to her final resting place. The medical team are amazed at the tenacity of the little lady covered in bruises and fed through a drip to keep her fluid levels up. She has a window bed that looks over some rooflines and  across to the bright colours of Corio Bay. I kiss her goodbye and she smiles and again asks me what time my flight leaves. Then she slips back into her gentle sleep.

In the Spirituality Centre of the Hospital I wrote an Easter Prayer in the book of prayers left by others who have sat in the quiet space with the mystery of life

Risen One
Promise of Life
Word of Justice
Compassion of the Divine
Comfort us who grieve and worry
Teach us trust and hope
Hold all of us in your love as we
struggle with the mystery of life and death.
On this Easter Day renew our hearts with
life, love and courage.
Let us see your presence in those around us
speaking words of peace.
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