Monday, February 23, 2009
A Mother's Reach
One summer I learned the extent of my mother's reach: It spanned exactly one continent, one ocean, and one channel, traversing halfway up the UK to a little farming community so small even the buses don't travel there.
I was a student at the time. I had just completed a summer at Cambridge and was traveling blissfully on a Britrail Pass before returning home. Some friends had arranged a weekend stay at a farmhouse in the Lake District and invited me to join them. We took the train as far as it would go, then took the bus as far as it would go, and eventually ended up having to hitchhike the rest of the way. It was the perfect adventure for a handful of college students.
We spent the weekend racing down to Lake Windermere to pick raspberries, traversing wandering footpaths to nineteenth-century authors' estates, reading aloud from said authors' books, waking up to a rooster crow at the crack of dawn, and eating farm-fresh bacon that was thicker than a slice of ham. We were in heaven! On Sunday morning it was time for us all to part ways. My friend Janet and I were the last to leave, choosing to squeeze every joyous moment out of our wonderful farmhouse junket before returning to London.
The little farmhouse was in such a remote location it took us nearly two hours to thumb a ride into the next town. We didn't think much of it as we sat on the fence post in the morning sun, chewing on long blades of grass. Eventually two very nice guys in a BMW stopped and offered us a ride into Grasmere, and we were on our way.
I didn't think much of it until I got home, three weeks later. Once we got my bags unloaded and all the sweaters and souvenirs distributed (the dollar was at an all-time high), my mom pulled me aside and asked intently, "Where were you on the morning of August 7th? It would have been Sunday about 10 am, your time." I rolled the dates over in my head. "Oh," I said nonchalantly, almost boasting, "We were hitchhiking in Ambleside." (I'm sure my younger siblings would have been duly impressed.)
Then she took hold of my arm and looked me right in the eye. "Don't you ever, EVER do that again" she said emphatically. "Why?" I asked. She told me that on August 7 she woke up in the wee hours of the morning (it's a seven hour time difference) with the strongest impression that I was not safe. With a sense of urgency, she climbed out of bed and knelt down, praying for my safety. She prayed and prayed, imploring for a sense of peace, and not until a whisper of the spirit told her all was well did she climb back in bed. We did the math and discovered that her spiritual alarm went off right after we'd started hitchhiking, and that she crawled back into bed, with an assurance that I was safe, at precisely the time the guys in the BMW dropped us off in Grasmere. A little shiver ran up my spine.
I was amazed. Stunned that I could have placed myself in so much danger, without any sense of risk or harm. Blown away by the range and power of my mother's reach. And humbled that she would spend hours in the middle of the night, on her knees, for me.
This whole story came back to me today, in vivid detail. I thought about my mom's uncanny sense that all was not well, and hope that my own intuition can be that well polished. That my reach can be that extensive, and my grasp that potent. Like the way the moon's gravity gently governs the ocean's tides, from lightyears away. I hope that when our children, and especially our oldest, are in any sort of danger...physical, emotional, or spiritual...an alarm will sound inside me. I want the kind of arms that can reach clear across the world -- folded. The kind of arms that can reach Him. Because His reach is infinite, responding with safety and comfort and peace. I learned that summer about the power of prayer, and about the scope of a mother's reach. And the lesson came back to me today. Just when I needed it most.
Look for this – and other entries on the subject of Mom – at Scribbit's Writeaway Contest for April, here.