My mother has been out of the country on a mission for 18 months out of the last 23. Another 22 until she returns home again. She and my father served a mission in Ghana and were called to lead the Monrovia, Liberia Mission while in the field. I can say I’m happy for them, I believe in God and the good work they are doing, but it’s a very long time for them to be gone and often I don’t want to say or think those things. It’s a very long time to go without my mother and father. And sometimes I just want them here.
My sister announced her pregnancy minutes after they announced their call. She delivered her first one month ago yesterday. It was the first grandchild my mother was not present to greet. Another sister was with her the day she delivered. My sister-in-law visited. Cousins and aunts brought meals. I’ll be leaving tomorrow to go meet my sister, now a fellow mother; and meet her child, my nephew. One more sister and one more first child are expected at Christmastime. (There are four of us and a brother.) It’s a lot to miss.
When I took in foster children I longed for her to hold those babies and me. Church members offered rote lines intended as comfort.
“What an honor to have your parents serve.”
“They are where God needs them.”
“What a blessing for your family.”
No trite words can fill the vacancy of her or bandage the bleeding wound of her absence. I just have to feel it even if I have faith. This is not about faith, it’s about the loneliness and loss of a long time apart.
No trite words can fill the vacancy for Her either. I want to talk through the loneliness, examine what’s missing, and lean into the discomfort of being without. It can be felt even in faith in Her, Him, and their plan for us. This isn’t about faith, this is about the loneliness and loss of a long time apart.
This month the Segullah Journal is themed along the longing for, search for, and connection of mothers on earth and Mother above. The languid lines of the poetry, prose, and essays explore what it is to mother and be mothered. Featured Writer Fiona Givens opens with an essay written just for Segullah considering the “Mother of All Living” and the Tree of Life. Continuing with nature, Featured Artist Jenna von Benedikt discusses her depiction of animals and earth an interview by Linda Hoffman Kimball. Amanda Hamilton Ross examines what it is to be at home while she sits with a teen mother in rural Mexico. Dayna Patterson’s poem asks if we can learn her “Mother Tongue,” Thalia Pope’s Unspoken Prayer pleads for “just some grasp of your skirts’ hems.” Finally, Elizabeth Cranford Gracia reviews Rachel Hunt Steenblik’s just-released poetry collection Mother’s Milk. It’s a rich and thick edition this month.
Please join us in sisterhood as together we missing mothers- those lost, away, or unknown- borrow a line from Thalia Pope’s poem- “inch along this cord dividing sacrilege and faith.”
Sandra Clark Jergensen
Interview with artist Jenna von Benedikt by Linda Hoffman Kimball
“Casa” by Amanda Hamilton Ross
“Unspoken Prayer” by Thalia Pope
“If Mother Braids a Waterfall” by Dayna Patterson