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  • Writer's pictureKristen Cole

Hope from Dust on Mother’s Day

Having been trusted to embrace the newest born and the closest to death close to my chest, I realize often that my career as a pediatric nurse practitioner in a state hospital colors my perspective on mothering in a very unique and humbling way.

I have had the gift of connecting with mothers in the midst of the greatest joy and the deepest pain. It is indeed a gift, one that I have had trouble understanding at times. But it is also the type of treasure that is so very sacred, that all human doubt walls come tumbling down and what remains is just enough dust to kick up hope, especially on a day like Mother’s Day. As I prayed about what to write this beautiful Mother’s Day morning, I remembered this precious story:

“The forest fire had been brought under control, and the group of firefighters were working back through the devastation making sure all the hot spots had been extinguished. As they marched across the blackened landscape between the wisps of smoke still rising from the smoldering remains, a large lump on the trail caught a firefighter’s eye.

As he got closer he noticed it was the charred remains of a large bird, that had burned nearly half way through. Since birds can so easily fly away from the approaching flames, the firefighter wondered what must have been wrong with this bird that it could not escape. Had it been sick or injured?

Arriving at the carcass, he decided to kick it off the trail with his boot. As soon as he did, however, he was startled half to death by a flurry of activity around his feet. Four little birds flailed in the dust and ash then scurried away down the hillside.

The bulk of the mother’s body had covered them from the searing flames. Though the heat was enough to consume her, it allowed her babies to find safety underneath. In the face of the rising flames, she had stayed with her young. Her dead carcass and her fleeing chicks told the story well enough–she gave the ultimate sacrifice to save her young.”

This story is one of parallel to the love of our Savior as He died on the cross, sparing us from the charring fire of sin. It bares repeating on Mother’s Day, a day to reflect on the love of mothers who have done the wing-spreading sheltering to our young, all the while getting burned from the flames above and the fear-born blows beneath from our immature young. It’s hard to imagine what those baby chicks were thinking and feeling, not knowing what that mama bird was enduring. Makes me think hard about my daily thoughts about just what Jesus endured for me…

I also wonder what that dear mama hen was thinking (if hens actually thought) as she slowly burned to death. Will my young emerge unscathed? Will they see their own singed wings as a reminder of pain or of my overflowing sacrificial love? Did I love them well enough? Did I shelter them enough? Did I shelter them too much? Could I have done more? Will they grow to accept me? Makes me think hard about what Jesus hoped for me and my perspective in this life as He died on that cross…

Mother’s Day is most often, a day of great celebration and gratitude for women who have gone before us, who have carried the torch of mama sacrifice and who have loved us well. It is a day where we celebrate our own mommyhood, of healthy growing and thriving children who may try our nerves at times, but none-the-less are here with us and are well. It is also a day of longing, of wombs not yet filled. It is a day of sadness, of having lost a mother or even worse, having lost a child. It is a day of pain, memories of broken homes and broken relationships. It is a day that some people have difficulty celebrating.

It’s also a hard day to write about, to capture the dichotomy of emotions in the burning hen above and the smoldering peeps below. However, every single one of us has the opportunity to know the type of love modeled by that mother hen in Jesus.

The sad dust settled and the fire fighter kicked aside the charred bird lying in the road, another brutal reminder of the death and destruction of a life seeming now void of hope. The little chicks emerged and became the promise of new life, of love and of true sacrifice. Jesus died for us on a cross, a death far more brutal than being burned in a fire, His body carried to the tomb, wrapped in linen and prepared for its permanent place back to dust. His body was not kicked aside when new life was discovered, His body rose from the dead. That is the type of sacrificial love, promise and power that covers every single one of us today.

Whether today is one of great thanksgiving or of great pain, know that there is hope in the dust of this life. Just when we think that all there is to see is barren ground, hope has a way of emerging. New babies, new grass, new flowers. Friendly smiles, warm hugs, sincere encouragement. This hope emerges when we choose to see, accept and embrace it. I choose it when I enter into exam rooms of critically ill children and their grieving parents. I choose it when my children say unkind things to me that hurt deeply, but I know they don’t mean them. I choose it when I am misunderstood by those around me in my own mothering choices. This type of dust seeing beauty is a choice.

My hope and prayer for each of you this Mother’s Day is that you choose to see beauty from the dust of life today. May you each know the love of Jesus, no matter your past present or future. He is always available with his mama hen like arms, ready to bear the brunt of life’s fires while protecting you under the shelter of his sacrificial embrace. Rest there and be loved. Rest there and see beauty.

Happy Mother’s Day!

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