Admittedly, that's not your everyday activity for a conference breakout session!
But there we were, a room full of mostly healthcare chaplains at a conference about caring for the human spirit. And the Jewish Chaplain and director of the Jewish Chaplaincy at Stanford Medicine who addressed our breakout session asked us to gather in groups of four and share this special moment with each other.
Later I spoke to the chaplain who was also a clinical professor at Stanford's School of Medicine. He was a kind man with smiling eyes and a natural ability to teach, and he asked me what I had shared with my group.
I told him I had many experiences to choose from, but that I instantly thought of the birth of my daughter, when I had a profound feeling of being connected to our divine Creator. He asked me where my daughter was today. She is now nearly eighteen and considering the next important steps in her life and as I explained that my husband and I are in the "letting go" phase of parenting our children, the chaplain--who is a parent himself--commiserated with me. But he didn't leave it there.
"You know, this isn't really about letting go, is it? It's about connecting in new ways!" he said.
That was a lightbulb moment for both of us. We shared a hug and business cards and then he encouraged me to blog about this idea.
So here I am, thinking about Mother's Day and remembering his advice. He's right. Motherhood has taught me so much more about connecting in new ways than about letting go.
While it seems like parents are required to let go at each milestone with their child--first steps, first day of kindergarten, first boyfriend or girlfriend, first day of driving alone, etc.--each of these progressive steps requires that parent and child learn the evolving balance of loving in new and progressive ways, rather than severing ties. As a mother, I've learned that my job is to help my children become independent, strong thinkers and contributors to their community, acting autonomously while always being supported by strong ties to family.
For me, one of the best ways I've found I can do this for my children is actually wordless.
It's about taking the time to stop and quietly acknowledge the divine source of their goodness and support their spiritual growth and progress through an awareness of its ever-presence with them. Two books inspire my prayers, the Bible and Science and Health by Mary Baker Eddy. The Scriptures describe God's love for us this way: "I will comfort you like a mother comforting her child" (Isaiah 66: 13). And Eddy, who drew upon the Bible for each statement she made about God, wrote that "Father-Mother is the name for Deity, which indicates His tender relationship to His spiritual creation."
One day my youngest son came to me and said he had prayed after feeling challenged by a school assignment. The idea that came to him was, "We can do this." He told me that he no longer felt worried when he realized he would never be alone in anything he did because God was always with him as a sort of partner. Wow. I may not be with my son everywhere he goes (and who would want that?) but he was learning that God, the true Father and Mother of us all, would always be by his side with the ideas he needs to feel comfort and guidance for life's various challenges.
This Mother's Day, whether our mothers are physically with us or not, the timeless and loving connection we each have to our divine Father-Mother is still with us. There's no letting go in that relationship.