When my mom passed on, I think I cried for 12 hours nonstop. It felt like a surprise because she was sure she’d live to 100. She had even let us start buying her new clothes. But as I prayed through the tears, there was something else asserting itself: the supreme power of goodness, and my need to live in obedience to the gift. It speaks to me of what the disciples must have learned at Easter.
My mom was a perky nonagenarian who outlived my dad by 20 years. She found a sense of purpose out from under his shadow, and many people in many different places celebrated her life.
Most gracious for me was that in those 20 years she and I would find our friendship. It was to be a treasured gift after many decades of being disconnected. We traveled together, prayed together, and just enjoyed hanging out. The healing of this relationship is the biggest healing of my life.
So, how would I find a way to be at peace without our phone calls and planning our next visit?
In the weeks following, the tears were starting to feel manipulative and out of control. People would encourage me to keep remembering all the good times together, but oddly those good times didn’t comfort me because I just wanted more of them.
The breakthrough came when I found myself praying, “Thank you, God, for Mother’s place in my life.” This was a very quieting prayer. It honored God as the source of the relationship, and I could trust that the God who appointed us to each other would somehow sustain the blessing.
That fact of being appointed to each other isn’t the biological bond of mother and daughter. It feels like a relationship that transcends time. From the beginning of creation we have been sisters in God’s family, even before we met each other at my birth. The more I can see us from that spiritual perspective, the less I get preoccupied with the history of a difficult relationship turning into a great relationship and now becoming a lost relationship.
One of the things Christian Science has taught me is not to view life through the lens of matter. The material sense of things always shrinks, belittles, and lies because life seems such a chaotic mixture of good and evil.
The spiritual sense of life expands thought, magnifies the good, and helps you recognize the continuity of God’s love in your life despite the fluctuation. As the Bible explains: “Every good gift and every perfect gift is from above, and cometh down from the Father of lights, with whom is no variableness, neither shadow of turning” (James 1:17). The good God gives is not fleeting. And even if the form of the good changes, the good doesn’t really change; it is still full and satisfying in a different form.
And frankly that’s the perspective that enabled my mom and me to be able to trust each other. We put less emphasis on the outward things (such as our personality quirks) and appreciated more the beauty of our shared relationship with God. I found the humility to learn from her strengths. She found the freedom to be untroubled when I did things in a different way from what she expected.
The meaning of Easter secures this ground won in my thought about my mom. Jesus’ words, “Before Abraham was, I am” (John 8:58), speak of the eternal saving power of Christ. That divine power precedes birth, undergirds daily life, and is enforced after people are no longer with us. Mary Baker Eddy, the founder of Christian Science, refers to this power as “the living, palpitating presence of Christ...” (“Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures,” p. 351). It so secures our relationship with God that we cannot know ourselves or others outside this influence.
The supreme power of goodness is the continuity of goodness. Jesus’ reappearance proved that the torture of the cross and the solid rock of the tomb could not circumscribe the implications of his lifework. His eager return to the disciples proved that their unfaithfulness could not interrupt Jesus’ expression of God’s love for them. Jesus’ patient, persistent teaching at the morning meal (see John, Chapter 21) proved that stubborn will could not stop the Christ’s correcting influence.
This year, the period of 40 days between Jesus’ resurrection and his ascension (see Acts 1:3) is very meaningful to me. It moved the disciples from confusion and ambiguity about their life purpose to the joy of obedience to the gift given.
The Gospel of Mark reports that after Jesus gave the command to go "into all the world and preach the gospel to every creature,” he disappears, and they are obedient. They even felt the power of Christ working with them (see Mark 16:15, 19, 20). The rest of the New Testament reports the healing and church-building that stands through the centuries as examples to Christians everywhere.
That’s the adjustment I feel about my mom – obedience. Instead of longing for her physical presence, I feel the commitment to live the Christly qualities that embodied the gift of her in my life. It’s so much clearer why we got to know each other: for the purpose of knowing God’s goodness better.
God as divine Love is the source of that goodness. It fills all the empty corners. It even triumphs when someone passes from our lives. This is the supreme power of goodness.