The one thing I want my children to remember most about me is how much I have loved. How much I have loved them, loved others, and loved God. I want them to think of me as someone who gives herself fully, faithfully, and generously without holding back.
“There is nothing more beautiful than a mother loving her child into goodness, and nothing we need more urgently.”
I was recently moved by these words of Rev. Samuel J. Aquila, who in speaking on the feminine genius and the genius of motherhood, described the feminine genius as the practice of “literally growing goodness in spite of incredible obstacles.” When looking to our Mother Mary, who has transformed many cultures through her apparitions, Aquila realized that the unique gift endowed to women is the gift of cultivating seeds of beauty.
Two reflections came to mind on this, in considering how they relate to my own motherhood and the motherhood of love that many of us strive for. Particularly the image of “growing” goodness in spite of obstacles.
Anyone who has struggled with actually making things grow, from a garden to a cactus, might understand this. Not gifted with a green thumb myself, I have persevered in gardening. And there are SO many obstacles in gardening. Squirrels, birds, bugs, too much water, too little water, too much sun, not enough sun, bad soil, overcrowding, weeds, etc. etc.
But there is also nothing like the pride in pulling your very own ripened red tomato off the vine. This growing of goodness in spite of incredible obstacles reminds us of the Parable of the Sower in Matthew 13. In fact, I don’t think that there is any better way to understand this parable than to actually toil in your own garden.
Why would anyone waste so much time and effort sowing and tending, when so many obstacles threaten to destroy their labor? The answer is found in the seed that is sown in the good soil, which takes root and yields a hundredfold. This abundant yield more than makes up for the lost crop.
In relating this to the growing of goodness in our own children, a mother is the gardener who tends and toils night and day in the formational garden of her children, in spite of incredible obstacles. She will stop at nothing to make sure the soil is good, the roots are deep, and the predators are kept far away. She will go to the end of her life and beyond with the mission to see that what she has sown has in fact yielded a hundredfold.
When I was a younger and more cynical version of myself, I looked at the world around me and the horrors of the nightly news, and I thought, “Wow, how can anyone in good conscience bring a child into this world?” How could anyone possibly stand a chance at goodness in spite of all the incredible obstacles out there? My defeatist attitude allowed me to be sideswiped by the “obstacles” of the world, and deafened to the potential for, or even existence of goodness at all.
The answer to these questions is found in the heart of the mother. The mother who LOVES her child into goodness. The mother who gives a gift that cannot be forced upon her child, threatened into the heart of her child, or coaxed into their will. This love of the feminine genius is a great mystery placed in the heart of womankind. This love possesses a beauty that is extra-ordinary, reflective of the Divine love and mercy, and embodied in the Blessed Mother herself.
Each mother prayerfully possesses the potential of this gift to be actualized in her relationships with her own children. A mother who herself loves and strives for goodness, communicating this desire deeply in the shared journey with her children. A mother CAN love her children into goodness.
Motherhood is the art of finding potential, and fostering it. Motherhood is the craft of focusing on the good and trusting that the rest will fade away. Motherhood is the penetrating beauty of unwavering hope, and unflinching love. The feminine genius is the practice of literally growing goodness in spite of incredible obstacles.
-Archbishop Samuel J. Aquila
Copyright 2014, Kimberly Cook