Mothers and Grandmothers

“And so our mothers and grandmothers have, more often than not anonymously, handed on the creative spark, the seed of the flower they themselves never hoped to see—or like a sealed letter they could not plainly read.”

-Alice Walker, from In Search of Our Mothers’ Gardens

Last week I shared an encounter which made me wistful for my mother (pictured at right as a young girl). It was her birthday last week and I still miss her terribly six years after her death.  I have come to embrace this ache as a beautiful sign of how much I loved her, how much my heart is capable of loving, and so in some ways I treasure this lingering grief.

I have shared here in the past that one of the things I grieve the most is that in the few years before her death she had moved fully into her own strength.  She had reached that point in her life where she cared little about what others thought of her and so she lived from authentic passion and was radiant.  With serious degenerative illness, her body was also fragile and vulnerable, but she navigated the tension of body and spirit with integrity and power.

Her own mother (pictured at left with my aunt) had to forsake many of her own passions to raise a family. These were the expectations of the world in which she lived. I know that I carry her unfulfilled longings within me.  Each time I claim my own voice, my own passion, my own strength, I do so in part for her.

Alice Walker offers us this poignant image of mothers and grandmothers who hand on “the creative spark,”  “the seed,” and the “sealed letter” to us.  My work in the world is to catch fire, to bloom, and to unleash my own secret words.

Will you join me?

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