Parson to Person: “Living in the Animal House” May 7, 2021

This Sunday is Mother’s Day–a time that can be either heart-warming or heart-breaking (and sometimes both). That’s because some of us may feel gratitude for the parents we had; some of us feel a little empty, wishing we had had what it seems everyone else got but us (the Hallmark portrayal of motherhood). Some of us are parents ourselves, trying to get it right; some of us wish we could have been parents and grieve that we weren’t. So, for some this is a day of joy, of grateful memories, of wistful feelings. But for some a day with more pain than happiness–either because of parents who didn’t give what we needed most, or children who have left us without the ties we thought we’d have.

I suspect that, for some of us, Mother’s Day may actually be a combination of some of the above.

Whatever Mother’s Day evokes for you, I invite you to take time to remember some incidents from your childhood that have helped to make you who you are today. My sermon this Sunday will be my attempt to explain how this has worked for me. But for now, I will leave you with one positive anecdote that I won’t have time to mention this Sunday.

Unlike a lot of other mothers in my neighborhood, my mom let us have all the “pets” we wanted. She even let my oldest brother Andy bring a 5-foot garter snake into the house. She gave him a big pot to put it in–only, while we were watching TV it slithered out and got behind the piano (and was hissing when we tried to get it out using a yardstick). Things like that didn’t bother my mom. She was used to all our pets–the snakes and rats and mice and frogs, and the rabbit and chickens and cats and dogs, and the guinea pig and parakeets and canaries and salamanders–plus a pigeon that used to perch on the cross on top of my backyard church, looking for all the world like the Holy Spirit had appeared as a dove and descended on the church!

Our house was not the cleanest on the block (the comedian Phyllis Diller once said that cleaning your house while your children are still there is like shoveling snow while it’s still snowing)–but we were the house that all the neighborhood kids wanted to go to on a Saturday afternoon. For that alone, I am grateful for my mother.

peace and unrest,

tony