Mother, May I?

Mother, May I?
Lent 20

The Latin word “scrinium” translates as a case or chest for books or papers. As previously discussed in the article on reliquaries and relics, mankind has often kept material objects and deemed them to have religious, spiritual, or sacred value. These places were dedicated to a patron saint, a notable figure from the area’s past, or a deity. Many religions and spiritualities make use of shrines. These include Chinese folk religion, Shinto, Asatru, Hinduism, Buddhism, Islam, and Christianity. Countries often designate certain historical landmarks as notable shrines. Some consider churches and temples shrines. Even dates on the calendar denote certain notable or sacred days.

Yesterday was International Woman’s Day, a part of March being Women’s History Month. While it may seem a bit discriminating that there is no one month designated Men’s History Month and while many might well believe that history is and has always been written from the male perspective, generally having been penned by men, it really harkens back to one simple fact of nature. We are all birthed via the female of the species. It should be no surprise, therefore, that there are a number of shrines dedicated to one particular mother. Called Marian shrines, these are icons, artwork, and buildings dedicated to the woman known as the Virgin Mary, the mother of the man Christians call Jesus Christ.

In his song “I Am Your Child”, Barry Manilow penned: “I am your child. Wherever you go you take me too. Whatever I know, I learned from you. Whatever I do, you taught me to do. I am your child; and I am your chance. Whatever will come, will come from me. Tomorrow is won by winning me. Whatever I am, you taught me to be. I am your hope, I am your chance. I am your child.”

What we consider sacred determine how we live our lives. Perhaps there is a shrine in your town or village or city that you consider sacred. Maybe it is a shrine that others use but you do not. In the twenty-first century, we have seen a lack of respect for other beliefs based upon a fear of losing our own. Whether one is Baha’i, Islamic, Jewish, Shinto, Christian, or one of over a hundred various spiritualities or faiths, we have seen the killing of the faithful by those who fear them.

This distrust leads to the desecration of our planet, the loss of many sacred places and shrines. Some psychologists believe part of the reason for this is the large number of displaced people, refugees, and orphans in the world. These people have no attachments to either location or people. They have learned that they cannot count on mankind. They defend what they believe with reflexes of violence. They fight for their lives because they trust no one.

People who have secure attachments are generally those whose native lands have not been ravaged by war or poverty. They have known their parents and have not suffered from hunger or threat of invasion. These people are altruistic and volunteer out of sincere desires to help others. Phillip Shaver of the University of California at Davis states: “We’ve found [that secure attachment] brings higher self-esteem, higher-quality adult couple relationships, reduced fear of death, greater tolerance for out-group members, and more effective organizational leadership.”

We may think what we do does not matter but it does. It is not coincidence that the Virgin Mary has shrines erected in her honor. The impact of mothering cannot be understated. What we fail to realize is that it is not just a parent who nurtures a child. Each person who comes into contact with that child or that child’s world has an opportunity and an obligation for nurturing. We cannot claim to care about the natural world without caring about mankind.

We are the earth’s children. We are all brothers and sisters. Wherever you go, you have an effect on my life. What the children of the world learn, they have learned from our doings or our shortcomings. The children of the world are our future. We are their mothers and fathers, their teachers, their role models, and sadly, sometimes their grave diggers.

No man has ever been born without a woman being present. An old children’s game found in a variety of cultures involved someone needing to ask “Mother, May I?” before doing the exercise or activity. Such respectful permission is seldom sought in today’s “gimme, gimme” world. The purpose of the game was the pause for consideration before one engaged in what was usually comical steps. The thinking aspect of asking for permission helped reign in the overly enthusiastic.

Shrines are beautiful but so is life. We should not overlook the most natural shrine of all – a child. Tomorrow will indeed be won when we realize and recognize the sacred aspect of each and every child. Educating children, all children regardless of gender, is our hope. The contributions of females in the world encompass all categories of living. Whatever tomorrow brings will be the harvest of the seeds of sacred we sow in our children today. You are a shrine of the living spirit of your soul. Be kind to it, develop it, and see the beauty of it. We are all the children of creation, visitors to the shrine of this planet.

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