I used to have a fantastic memory. That helped put me in demand for trivia nights, and I frequently received phone calls from people stumped for the answer to some question about history or baseball or TV. Frankly, I was proud of my reputation.
Thanks to googling, I’m not in such high demand for trivia answers. But my memory isn’t the same, either. In many categories, it’s definitely not as good as that of my wife, Donna.
She has the special memory of a mom.
I wish I could remember all of the things she does, especially things about my children’s early years. Some of her memories are more plentiful because she was a stay-at-home mom and I was a workaholic dad, so she was on hand to witness more than me. There also are the facts that my memory has been hindered by age, my depression and the electro-convulsive therapy I received some years ago.
I’m convinced, though, that moms have a special place in their brains reserved for storage of trivia about their kids. I have had plenty of wonderful moments with my children. But Donna recalls details, sights and sounds that seem only vaguely familiar to me.
There are times I wish I was a mom. I won’t say I get jealous; there is a tad bit of envy. As much as I love my children and really have been there for so much in their lives, I don’t have that unique connection that belongs to a mother.
Along those lines, I have been thinking much lately about Mary, the mother of Jesus.
I do envy one huge thing about Mary: She knows more about the Son of God than anyone in human history. She cuddled him as a baby, held his hand as he took his first steps as a toddler, taught him as a youth, watched him grow into a man. Then she witnessed his ministry, with the glory and tragedy, and finally experienced the risen Jesus.
No one was more intimately familiar with Jesus than his mom. And she never forgot.
Luke took special note of this fact a couple of times in his Gospel. After the shepherds visited the baby Jesus shortly after his birth, Luke wrote that “Mary kept all these things and pondered them in her heart.” When a 12-year-old Jesus had been separated from his parents and they found him back in the temple tending to his “Father’s business,” Luke wrote that “his mother kept all these sayings in her heart.”
Whenever I read any of the four Gospels, I remind myself that much of what was written couldn’t have come directly from Matthew, Mark, Luke and John. They weren’t present for everything – certainly not at the moment the angel told Mary of her pregnancy or on that first Christmas. That and other information only could have come from an eye-witness, only from Mary.
She treasured those memories as only a mother could. Imagine all that her heart stored, the love and knowledge and grace.
In the last few months, I have done some pondering myself. I have pondered her heart.
St. Gemma Galgani, an Italian of the 19th century, frequently would pray to Mary, “Dear Blessed Mother, lend me your heart. I look for it each day to pour my troubles into.” In his book about Marian consecration, Father Michael Gaitley noted two special prayers of Mother Teresa to Mary: “Keep me in your most pure heart,” and “Lend me your heart.”
Those prayers involve two actions:
* To be able to ponder matters of Jesus and faith with the detail of a perfect mother.
* To provide the love of Mary for Christ.
It goes beyond that, though. Because not only did Mary’s heart hold a pure love and knowledge for Jesus, but for all people. She remains our spiritual mother today and loves us with a special grace. I have tried to make “Lend me your heart” a daily prayer to her so I can learn to love Christ and all people with her heart.
I have been thinking of that in a unique way this last week, too, as I have made my daily visits to my mom in the hospital. Still having to work through speech therapy after her brain surgery, Mom tries to carry on a little conversation. Sometimes she gets frustrated in search of the right words; some days she speaks more understandably than others, though it is much better nine days after surgery than in those initial days.
Sitting quietly with her for a while tonight, I watched her cry and tried to console her. I have spent a lot of time thinking about all she has done for me, my wife, our children, my sisters, my dad and so many others. Countless others, really. She knows a lot of people because she is so outgoing, so giving, so full of faith and life. There has been an outpouring of support and prayers for her and my dad. If possible, I think I have learned to love my mom more than ever.
I have a feeling she is pondering all of this in her heart, a mother’s heart. I would love for my mom, my wife, my mother Mary to lend me their hearts so I could experience a fullness of love and memory that I only can imagine.
And that would enable me to love in a more pure way — something I would cherish.