Thursday, March 5, 2015

Mama's Mottos (5-10-09)

Mama’s Mottos
Mother’s Day, 2009
May 10, 2009
Unitarian Universalist Fellowship of Statesboro
Rev. Jane Page
 
One Sunday afternoon I was sitting with my Mama on the front porch of the little cabin that my dad built by our pond.  We sat there for a couple of hours –just enjoying the spring time – and marveling at the fact that we were now at a point in our lives where we could actually do this.  One of the things I shared with her was that I had to figure out what to do about Mother’s Day at church.  Now as I explained to my mom, this isn’t the easiest Sunday in the world to be in the pulpit.  In fact, most ministers list the Mother’s Day sermon as the one that is the most challenging for them.   Now some of you may be already shaking your heads in agreement while others maybe questioning why in the world someone would have a problem with a sermon on the day set aside to honor mothers.  And that dual reaction is representative of the paradox this day presents.
 
As UU Rev. Lynn Ungar stated recently:
It’s a well-known fact amongst ministers that Mother’s Day is a next to impossible thing to preach on. For every person who brings a sainted mother to church on Mother’s Day for a little well-deserved appreciation, there is someone else gritting their teeth over the utterly inadequate job their mother did of raising them.
 
I told my mom that I thought part of the problem may be the very HIGH expectations we have of mothers – since the most secure place we probably had experienced was in the womb – and that often when mothers didn’t live up to these expectations, folks felt let down.  Well, my mom listened to my “concern” about this Mother’s Day sermon – shook her head – and said to me, “Well – Mama ain’t God – so put that in your pipe and smoke it.” 
 
Wow – another pithy little lesson from my Mama.  I actually THOUGHT about doing a sermon with the title “Mama ain’t God” – but decided to save that one for another year.  Instead, that little lesson prompted me to turn my thoughts to all the little small lessons that our mothers or mother figures have given us through the ages, the little mottos that we live by.  Now most of us realize that these little proverbs used to encourage us are not necessarily true – but are used to emphasize whatever it is that our mom wanted to wash our brains with at the time.  Here are some proverbs and sayings that demonstrate just how contradictory these little pronouncements may be!
 
The pen is mightier than the sword…BUT
Actions speak louder than words.
Look before you leap…BUT
Strike while the iron is hot.
Birds of a feather flock together…BUT
Opposites attract.
Doubt is the beginning of wisdom…BUT
Faith will move mountains.
Silence is golden…BUT
The squeaky wheel gets the grease.

You are never too old to learn…
BUT
You can’t teach an old dog new tricks.
Absence makes the heart grow fonder…BUT
Out of sight, out of mind.
Hold fast to the words of your ancestors...BUT
Wise men make proverbs and fools repeat them
 
In any case, fool that I am, I invited our members and friends on our UUStatesboro listserv to share some of their “momisms” with me.    And you did!  Now I’m not going to take the time to try to unpack these theologically and philosophically as the teaser description in our newsletter implied.  Instead, I just took those examples and organized many of them into seven categories – because, of course, seven is the perfect number.  Seven is also the number of the row in the Wal-Mart parking lot that my mom always parks on so that her car won’t get lost.  If you’ve ever lost a car in a large parking lot – you’ll welcome that advice from Mama.  So here they are:  Our Mamas’ Mottos.
 
1st:  Lessons on exhibiting kindness, acceptance, and gratitude:
·        Do unto others as you would have them do unto you (or other variations of the Golden Rule)
·        Honey catches more flies than vinegar.      
·        If you can’t say something nice, don’t say anything.
·        Saying – Bless her heart or Bless his pea-pickin heart  before or after criticizing someone.  (Example:  Bless her heart, she just doesn’t know when to keep her mouth shut.)
·        Don’t look a gift horse in the mouth.
·        Carol’s mom exhibited her Universalism by teaching Carol this poem:
          Heretic, rebel a thing to flout!
          He drew a circle that shut me out.
          But love and I had the wit to win.
          We drew a circle that took him in.
 
2nd – Lessons for encouraging good manners and good behavior:
·        Mind your manners
·        Mabel, Mabel – keep your elbows off the table.   
·        Be good, and if you can’t be good – be good as you can be.
·        Or this variation – Be good, and if you can’t be good – be careful.
·        Idle hands are the devil’s workshop.
·        The road to hell is paved with good intentions.
·        God don’t like ugly.
·        Pretty is as pretty does.
·        Nothing good happens after midnight.
 
3rd – Lessons encouraging respect for others – especially your elders and especially your mothers.
·        Children are to be seen and not heard.
·        Because I said so, that’s why.
·        You don’t have to like it, you just have to do it (or perhaps eat it).
·        Madeleine made this up for Elizabeth:  A dutiful daughter is a beautiful daughter.
·        Gosh, I hope you have a child just like you someday.
 
4th – Lessons encouraging us to appreciate health and safety
·        Health is wealth.
·        Cleanliness is next to godliness.
·        There’s no shame in being poor, but soap don’t cost that much.
·        Just say no (and they weren’t just using this saying for avoidance of drugs)
·        Nice girls don’t.
·        Stay away from mean people.
·        Eat all your food if you want it to be a nice day tomorrow.
·        Eat all your food.  There are children starving in India.
 
5th – Lessons encouraging efficiency with time and money
·        A stitch in time saves nine.
·        There are always more forks down the road, so don’t dwell to long on the one you should take.  If you miss your path, there will be another fork later on that will bring you back to it.
·        When traveling – never miss an opportunity to go to the bathroom – even if you don’t have to go.
·        If you need to get something done on a Sunday you say:  Well, the ox is in the ditch.
·        Your house should be clean enough to be healthy and dirty enough to be happy.
·        Don’t cry over spilt milk, it could have been whiskey.
·        Don’t bite off more than you can chew.
·        In response to frivolous things that one of our folks wanted, her Granny Coo would say:  I may want horns, but I’m gonna die butt-headed!
·        A fool and his money are soon parted.
·        A penny saved is a penny earned.
·        (But) You can’t take it with you.
 
6th – Lessons about our relationships
·        One mom advised:  If you will just go to Sunday School, you will meet a nice boy.
·        Another mom encouraged her daughter after a break-up with, Love is great – every time around.
·        One Aunt advised:  You do the pickin’ and the choosin!
·        And one mom shared: It’s better to BE single than wish you were.
·        And how many of us heard this expression of love:  I love you a bushel and a peck and a hug around the neck.
 
7th – Lessons about meeting life’s challenges
·        Don’t knock it till you’ve tried it.
·        Always wear clean underwear.  You never know if you might be in an accident.
·        There’s a new day comin’ tomorrow that ain’t never been touched.
·        Don’t worry about me.  I’m going to rise above this.
·        If someone gives you lemons, make lemonade.
·        And finally, one mom’s favorite encouraging words to her daughter:  Keep your tiddies up.
 
So that’s the light-hearted part of this little homily.  Here’s the serious part.
 
I’m one of the lucky ones.  I am blessed with a mother who has loved, protected, and nurtured my brother and me for nearly six decades.  And I’ve also been blessed with the amazing grace to KNOW how fortunate I am and to be grateful.  If you are also fortunate to have or have had a nurturing mother or mother figure – be it an aunt or grandmother or other dear one, may this be the Mother’s Day for you to celebrate your gratitude by sharing that.  If she is alive, tell her how much she means to you.  If she has passed on, tell others and pass on her love to your family, your friends, your precious pets, your plants….  Pass it on.  
 
Now I won’t pretend that I understand what it’s like to have had a relationship with a mother – a relationship that is heavy with disappointment and sorrow.  But I’ve had some share of disappointment and sorrow in my relationships and I DO know the joy and peace that comes with forgiveness and letting go.  That forgiveness may not be something that you are able to do on one Mother’s Day morning, but it is a process you can begin or renew.  May it be so for you.
 
And for those of us who have taken on the opportunities and challenges of motherhood ourselves, may we know that we can also forgive ourselves.  As a wise woman told me, “Mama ain’t God.” 
 
The same is true for those of you in other roles, be it that of father, spouse or partner, sibling, child, or friend.  We can all learn the lesson in life that Paul McCartney learned from his mother.
 
Paul’s mother’s name was Mary and she died when he was just 14 years old.  But he remembered her little mottos and words of wisdom.  When he would have disappointments in his young life, she would tell him, “It’ll be alright.  Just let it be.”  When he was older and the storm clouds of life circled him, she came to him in a dream with those same words of wisdom…  “Let it be.” 
 
On this Mother’s Day 2009, may Mother Mary’s words comfort and encourage us as well.  Our offering to support our shared hopes and values will be given and received as Eric Stetson shares those words of wisdom with us in song.
 
When I find myself in times of trouble
Mother Mary comes to me
Speaking words of wisdom, let it be.
And in my hour of darkness
She is standing right in front of me
Speaking words of wisdom, let it be.
Let it be, let it be.
Whisper words of wisdom, let it be.
 
And when the broken hearted people
Living in the world agree,
There will be an answer, let it be.
For though they may be parted there is
Still a chance that they will see
There will be an answer, let it be.
Let it be, let it be. Yeah
There will be an answer, let it be.
 
And when the night is cloudy,
There is still a light that shines on me,
Shine on until tomorrow, let it be.
I wake up to the sound of music
Mother Mary comes to me
Speaking words of wisdom, let it be.
Let it be, let it be.
There will be an answer, let it be.
Let it be, let it be,
Whisper words of wisdom, let it be
 
Amen and Blessed Be!
 
 

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