Strong like a mother
Last week I was invited by a friend to receive “darshan” from an Indian Saint.
(In case you aren’t familiar with the word — darshana means “vision” or “appearance” and refers to the experience one receives from a holy being.) I imagine its not that different from the pope offering blessings to the throngs of the faithful.
My husband and I were among the many faithful last Wednesday. We dropped our youngest off at school and drove thirty minutes to line up with others who showed up on a midweek morning to wait for Mother Meera to put her hands on our heads and stare into our eyes for a few lingering seconds. Before it was my turn, I watched the faces of men and women look up at Mother Meera and wondered what they were hoping for. I have always been enchanted, curious by these exchanges. But, this morning I was particularly receptive to the blessings transmitted to me through a being known lovingly as Mother.
Mothering has been an obsessive focus of my writing for sometime. It may have started ten or more years ago when my eldest son was in sixth grade and suffered what we coined at the time a panic attack —an episode that preempted many years of trying to figure out why he was so sad, so angry, so full of rage about a life that would otherwise appear so idyllic, protected, in tact.
I wrote a manuscript that tracked my years of trying to understand how my perfect boy, my first son was haunted by such anxiety that he needed years of therapy, evaluations, medications, interventions. By the time he was in tenth grade, he had been thrust into every possible therapeutic environment that existed. When I wasn’t teaching yoga full time at the studio people considered a church, a haven, a refuge — I took planes to small towns in Utah to tour residential treatment facilities to determine if they might be a fit for my son to spend his junior year.
Without knowing I could or would, I spent three years writing the story. The pages sit in a file stored on my desktop and have been read by a few close friends and writers. An excerpt appeared in a niche magazine. I may return to it someday, but I may just let it stay there. I keep thinking there is more to this story. At least my writing tells me so.
On the way to Mother Meera I had a terrible fight with my middle son over text message. In the last few years, as my eldest has worked harder than most adults to create a life that he is passionate and proud of; my middle child has now lost his way. I ride his emotional swings like a rip tide, and have yet to find a way to meet him. It occurs to me that most of the work of raising boys to become emotionally healthy men is an inscrutable act of holding space. Much of this period seems as if I am flinching as I stand back and watch them make choices that I wish I can save them from.
When I left Mother Meera and walked off the platform passed the aisle of the others waiting for her blessing, I wandered into the makeshift bookstore. It was filled with malas, bright silk scarves, crystals, oils and a small selection of books. I opened a book called Conversations With Mother. I turned to a page where a man asked Mother, “What do I do to keep the blessing continuing on?” Mother Meera’s answer was simple, as great wisdom always is. “There is nothing to do. The blessing continues according to one’s capacity to receive.”
I am fond of saying that one of the great heartbreaks in life is recognizing (and then accepting) that people may not see things as you see things. This has been especially difficult when it comes to teaching my own children. I want to save them from the hard parts. I told my husband that when I knelt before Mother Meera, the fight with my son was fresh in my body. All I could think when I looked into her eyes was to help my son. Help my son receive my help. My husband said, “See, you asked the wrong question.” It occurred to me as I left the room where this saintly woman sat for hours giving what she was here to give, that my husband was right. And I sat in the car and wondered if I could switch my plea after the fact. That before I ask my children to receive whatever help I think they need at this time, I have to remember to ask what it is I need to receive first.