I can’t count the times Mom tried to make me feel special. Her most impressive story was how she had strangled me at birth.The Doctors at St. Francis Hospital told her that the umbilical cord had silenced her 5th babies’ cry for good. She wouldn’t give up.
She often recounted her prayers to let me live. And how that led to a second chance.
Of course, her unintentional strangulation didn’t work all those years ago but prayers did. So, I prize above all her prayers. Wherever I was in the world, from that first breathe to now I knew she was praying.
I had seen her tears and prayers for my brothers in Vietnam, her other children — when she didn’t know I was watching. That comforted me on more than one occasion, as when running from thugs firing guns into the night and shouting “Death to America” in then socialist Peru on Christmas Eve in the Andes 1972.
There were many other dangerous occasions, almost too numerous, and never recounted; but one I’ll share. Two weeks before I came home on a cliffside dirt road at midnight in the Andes again, peering down 1,000’s of feet to a river below from a rickey bus filled with people, chickens, pigs (right out of movie “Romancing the Stone”) I prayed, thought of my mother, and said, “Now I know I am going to die.”
About a year before she passed away she emailed me a photo of one of the most dangerous roads in the world. It was a typical one-lane winding dirt highway up in the Andes which I had been familiar with. “Jim, were you ever on a road like that during your mission in Peru?” she asked.
I chuckled and simply answered, “Yes Mom. And thanks for your prayers.” Why is it boys at war or far from home always worry about their Mom’s feelings in those desperate moments they don’t or can’t write home about.
As it is with most people, images imprinted over a lifetime of celebrating come to my mind. These have become what one would describe as “normal.” Some include:
Ubiquitous Easter candy filling store isles one month before, the Easter Bunny with anticipation for traditional easter egg hunts for children, Easter baskets filled with goodies and presents for loved ones the night before, Easter Sunday church services, Easter pageants during Holy Week, celebrating the Christian heritage of and meaning for the word “Easter.”
Jesus the Christ suffering in Gethsemene, his crucifixion on the cross, and rising from the tomb in resurrected glory set the stage for these latter-day celebrations begun 2,000 years ago. But, in the spirit of celebrating, perhaps we have focused upon the marketing of traditions more than meanings.
This week also marks “Passover,” the religious observance honoring the 12 Tribes of Israel being delivered from Egyptian slavery and the plague of death by sheltering in place in their homes and placing the blood of a lamb over the lintel and doorposts of their homes. The angel of death passed over those protected by the blood of the lamb and so at each Passover Seder today the question is raised: “What makes this night different from all other nights?”
Until a world sickness captured our attention and required each person on the planet to shelter in place, we may have moved into this week more concerned about stocking up on Peeps marshmallow candies, and the perfect family photo we were planning, and what we would have for Sunday’s dinner, and the rare appearance of the family together for one of two regular church services we attended each year.
I enjoy the normal and colorful traditions of the world surrounding this and all holidays. And as found in Christianity, I enjoy the reasons behind such a celebration as much as anyone. Anything that points to a greater good where child-like innocence, hope, peace, love, and friendship can be celebrated will find me “all in.”
Easter and Passover 2020 presents a wonderful opportunity for those who have left the faith part of the Easter and Passover traditions in the past. It also offers those who feel a need to renew their commitments to an Easter cause greater than the customarily marketed holiday fluff and stuff a chance to do so with greater focus.
This week — between Palm Sunday the 5th of April which signifies Jesus as King meekly entering Jerusalem upon a donkey before his sacrifice for sin, and Easter Sunday, April 12th, which celebrates Jesus the Christ triumphantly overcoming death for all mankind–presents a solemn and reflective time to be alone; something that “sheltering in place” to stem the tide of a deadly pandemic virus may have provided each of us in a way no other opportunity would have.
It provides the observant Christian an opportunity to place the blood of the Lamb of God, as Jesus is known, symbolically over their home through constant prayer seeking a pass-over of the scourge of a pandemic claiming the lives of many.
I am not a professional preacher, but I have been a volunteer minister and once upon a time decades ago a full-time missionary in an impoverished foreign land and have felt things. I participated in much personal, private, and spontaneously serendipitous events that greatly humbled me.
May I recommend to all those who have an appreciation for the Christian traditions of Easter, something I have called in one of my books, “a return to innocence.” We have socially distanced ourselves from one another, but perhaps we should do the opposite now with our God. A return to innocence involves belief and faith coupled with a simple and humble prayer given upon bended knee in a petition style like a child simply talks to a parent.
It may go something like this: “Father in Heaven,” followed by gratitude, and then asking for specific blessings of things you desire in this hour of need, ending with “in the name of Jesus the Christ;” simple and child-like.
This may be something that feels new, or odd, or even uncomfortable to some. To others, it may be the most “normal” thing they do daily. Whatever the reason behind such a private petition to God, “simple” is the most eloquent prayer — for it is also the most heartfelt and innocent.
Just as I wrote in the soon to be free read novel, “The Christ Report” I could cite supporting Bible passages for these words of mine, but that is not my purpose today.
My simple blog this day is to announce to the world in some literary form my witness that the Jewish son of Mary, Jesus of Nazareth from the house of Joseph, became the Messiah, and that his spiritual promises as found in the Holy Scripture called the Bible are real foundations for a unique “shelter in place” Easter — or as one friend Mary Jean Bentley of Texas called it, a “shelter in peace.”
May this and future Easters become a more inspiring hope-filled normal with a return to innocence, gratitude, daily supplications, and feelings of renewal as we seek to join a worldwide spiritual awakening of our souls to realities upon which, in the first place, our celebrating is based.
God bless you and keep you in a return to childlike innocence and humility before the present crisis confronting us all.
Everyone feels lost many times throughout life. Sometimes, even when in a crowded room, we can feel as alone as if we were castaway on a deserted island.
It can happen because we lost a loved one, or a friend betrayed us, a hard-earned career is lost, financial disaster strikes after years of careful planning, a struggling marriage just got worse, an addiction we thought we beat came roaring back, sickness invades our life stealing from us needed energy like a thief in the night; in short–life just hammered us until we feel we can’t take it anymore.
On such occasions, emptiness may creep into our lives in what feels like a soul-crushing tide. Each wave of trouble crashes upon us tumbling us to the shore before mercilessly pulling us back into its current to smash us against the rocks with the next wave.
When hope is needed and you feel cast away, character Chuck Noland recounts how hope kept him alive…
“I knew, somehow, that I had to stay alive. Somehow, I had to keep breathing. Even though there was no reason to hope. And all my logic said that I would never see this place again. So that’s what I did. I stayed alive. I kept breathing. And one day my logic was proven all wrong because the tide came in and gave me a sail. And now, here I am. I’m back. In Memphis, talking to you. I have ice in my glass…
“And I’ve lost her all over again. I’m so sad that I don’t have Kelly. But I’m so grateful that she was with me on that island. And I know what I have to do now. I gotta keep breathing. Because tomorrow the sun will rise. Who knows what the tide could bring?”
Click on image and listen to the theme song of Cast Away starring Tom Hanks:
So many things still affect me from growing up years, and those years as an adult where Mom was always there. The “Golden Rule” was one of those things. Gently hammered into me whenever I left the nest, and even as an adult I still hear Mom’s voice.
The value of a mother cannot be underestimated. They are the nurturers of the world, the caretakers of the homes, the providers along with fathers of nourishment, clothing, and a safe place to live.
I include the final chapter to a book being revised for republishing, but available from Amazon online in eBook and used copies in hard and soft cover format. I include an audio link here of the nearly complete audiobook for those who wish to listen to an excerpt: http://www.jamesmichaelpratt.com/.
Though we age, and though we become the surviving members of a generation of people from slower, less complicated times, we all in our later years give thanks, credit, love from our hearts to our Mom, who gave us life, and in some cases even saved us.
With a smile as I close my eyes, I can see her call out to me as I run out the front door, “Remember Jimmy, do unto others as you would have them to do to you.”
Thanks for the unnumbered prayers for me. Thanks for all the tireless efforts when I didn’t notice. And thanks for the unseen tears. Still trying to behave Mom. Still trying to live the Golden Rule… But whatever else may be, or however far short I have fallen from your expectations, I announce to the world this: “I love you, Mom.
A Christmas season tale of redemption and filling inner emptiness with what matters most is offered when two strangers find the meaning of life over quiet weeks of giving. They learn that the unexpected can happen if you are willing to slow down and look for it. This short excerpt is from the narrator voice found in the manuscript in progress:
“Love, Wyoming, Population 50, exists only in the heart of every person who calls it home, or who stays for a week or two. But there’s the rub–the one thing that most won’t do. That is, most folks won’t ever visit Love; not on purpose anyway.
“It is a place without cell phones, cable TV, and internet, yet holds the magic everyone longs for. It is that intimate connection where face to face is all that’s needed to make a person feel important and needed.
“I didn’t get this wisdom from my Cheyenne ancestors, but from plain old observation. Now this truth be told — you are all welcome to Love. Will you actually make your way here?”
Uncle Dan Echohawk, from In a Wonderland Called Love, a Christmas story now in progress.
James Michael Pratt is the author of 10 titles including THE LOST VALENTINE, also produced as a Hallmark Hall of Fame and CBS Movie of the Week Jan. 2011.
For weekly connection, posts, specials, sneak peeks, or just to comment, stay in touch with the author by leaving your email @ the website: www.jamesmichaelpratt.com “Contact Me.”