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Celebrate our common denominator: mothers

Reminders are everywhere that next Sunday is Mother's Day. There are aisles of greeting-card options and flower-giving possibilities. The racks of stuffed animals are as soft and snuggly as you remember your mother's lap being when you were a child. There are all those big signs that say, "Don't forget"¦"

Of course, we won't forget.

Mothers are our common denominator. Like yours, mine was an uncommon woman with an enormous capacity for caring and a heart bigger than Canada. When people say I am like her, I feel highly complimented. My long-deceased mother-in-law was similarly abounding in purposeful strength. "A little feistier," my husband would suggest. And he would be right.

We have a photograph of the two of them standing next to my godmother, which is another aspect of mothering to be cherished and acknowledged. All three nearly 90-year-old women are looking straight into the camera as if testing it to portray them honestly.

If you are particularly blessed, especially late into your 60s and 70s, you still have your mother with you and can indulge her in celebratory appreciation all week.

Maybe take a minute right now to surprise her with a loving letter. Or maybe you could offer up a little prayer of thankfulness. Whether she is with you in this life, resurrect your best mother-memories and indulge in appreciative recall — in whatever way works for you.

When I create a thought-prayer, I imagine my mother gently reaching out as it floats up and away, tenderly capturing it and holding it in her heavenly heart.

Last week, I listened to a theological speaker say he thought it was parents, particularly mothers, who gave us the introduction to what "God" is in our lives with their "unconditional and uncontrollable" love. We know that a mom's love is "unconditional," but "uncontrollable?" Yes, I think so.

I have two daughters and a daughter-in-law who are mothers. I am not sure I tell them often enough how proud I am of their incredible mothering skills and the way they manage their lives. They are such strong and lovely women — so very individual in their dedication to their children and their marriages. Like so many woman in their late 30s and early 40s, they balance professional responsibilities with active parenting. Perhaps you have daughters like that in your life. Granddaughters who are mothers? Nieces or young friends who are mothers — or intend to be someday?

The message below is the one I tucked in the Mother's Day card I sent each of my daughters this year. I am not sure of the original author; it came to me in the last year from my dear friend Jan Thornton, an ever-loving mother who holds her daughters in her heavenly heart.

"Today may there be peace within. May you trust that you are exactly where you are meant to be. May you not forget the infinite possibilities that are born of faith in yourself and others. May you use the gifts that you have received, and pass on the love that has been given to you. May you be content with yourself just the way you are. Let this knowledge settle into your bones, and allow your soul the freedom to sing, dance, praise and love. It is there for each and every one of us."

Sharon Johnson is a retired Oregon State University associate professor emeritus. Reach her at Sharon@hmj.com.