I am not talking about the sadness I feel when my husband hurts my feelings; or because a friend has judged me; or even because a child I have disciplined (i.e., allowing the consequence of his own action be the teacher) is upset. These temporary moments of sadness have more to do with being self-preoccupied (how could he do that to me, why would she think that of me, I can’t stand to see her so unhappy because of me).
I am talking about the sadness a mother experiences from being separated from a beloved. That heart-wrenching sadness prompts me to find a place to sob my eyes out in private. The isolation and aloneness experienced from the loss of intimacy with my own flesh and blood: either physically by death or circumstance or emotionally by being “shut out.” This latter reason is a sleeper: often only a mother knows the imposed distance, and often only she experiences the pain from this separation, while the rest of the day-to-day just tarries onward.
We mothers are the gatekeepers of our communion of persons, our families. We are the impetus and barometers – the intimacy meters – in our abodes of Christ-centered love, in our homes. We strive to live the truth of our vocations, and we suffer the sadness of separation.
We are the ones in John’s gospel today when Christ says: I revealed your name to those whom you gave me out of the world. They belonged to you, and you gave them to me, and they have kept your word. Now they know that everything you gave me is from you, because the words you gave me I have given to them, and they accepted them and truly understood that I came from you, and they have believed that you sent me. I pray for them. I do not pray for the world but for the ones you have given me, because they are yours, and everything of mine is yours and everything of yours is mine… (Jn 17:1-11a).
The truth of our vocation as mothers is the messy living of love. We suffer from sadness because we love, as Christ has loved us: we love our children – whatever age – and we love our husbands. When we experience the separation of rejection, it produces a unique and painful sadness. Why? Because we belong to this supernatural world of a loving Father God and we know, we know. We know how to love our little and big persons, how to live the intimacy of the newborn in our arms or the delight of being loved. And we know when we are separated from this love…and when it is not due to death, we must remember who we belong to.
Has he not done the same for us?