A staff member from Madonna House asked me how I thought about having a mother whose poverty was so deep. No one had ever asked me this question, so I had no ready answers. How do you live and love someone who in many ways is opposite of you.
My Mom is simple.
For over forty years, she had run a home day care out of her home. She plans on working until – the Lord tells her otherwise. Once she turned 60, she made the decision, one child for each hand, as she often says to anyone who will listen. She teaches the children who are in her care about the birds sitting in the trees; and they listen and know each bird’s song, the many wondrous shapes of the clouds. They stop to smell flowers and, she discusses what colour is on the city bus or the school bus. She knows most of the employees who work at Herb and Spice Shop, where my mom does her groceries. She grew tired of the big groceries stores and just being another customer. She knows the name of each employee, and if there is a new one, give her time because she will learn their name, and use it every chance she gets. If they don’t know her name, they know her by her familiar face.
The aim of life is appreciation; there is no sense in not appreciating things; and there is no sense in having more of them if you have less appreciation of them. ~Gilbert K. Chesterton
Growing up I thought she had the greatest job because she got to work from home. She loves to take photographs of nature, she stops to smell the flowers especially the wild pink roses, the ones that are full of bees humming and buzzing around. She sees the world very differently than I see it. What I see or notice months before, takes her months to see, and in it she sees its simplicity. Each morning after the parent(s) of each child arrive, my mom insists on a hug to start the day. She’s big on letting both the boys currently in her care having lots of time to play. They visit the library and sing songs with Jennifer on Tuesdays, and on Thursday there’s playgroup. The other days there’s grocery shopping, and sometimes they go riding on the city bus.
My mom has always maintained she would never want a big house because then she would have to clean it. But I always point out to her, if she had a big house, she would probably have money to hire a cleaner. She is generous to a fault, and I find as time goes on, she is always trying to find ways in which to give. She doesn’t mind stopping to give money to those asking on the streets. But she keeps her toonies because they pay for her bills.
How is she simple? She just is. In her knowledge of the world, herself, her God, and to those around her. Her poverty comes from a purity of heart that she cultivates the entire day. She delights in His creation. Whether she has her eyes closed seated with her bible underneath her fingers; or as she goes for her morning walk. Smiling to those who pass by her. Even though she doesn’t realize it, she is surrounded by people who live in poverty. Sure, monetarily she makes less than them, but she is abundant in what really matters, and what really and truly turns the world round. She is on a personal mission to learn everything she can from God and without knowing it, she shares it with those who he brings into her life.
However mean your life is, meet it and live it: do not shun it and call it hard names. Cultivate poverty like a garden herb, like sage. Do not trouble yourself much to get new things, whether clothes or friends. Things do not change, we change. Sell your clothes and keep your thoughts. ~Henry David Thoreau