It is Mother's Day, 2020, and I have had a quiet day with the mother I have known and loved the longest.
I used to wish her "Happy Mother's Day," but her cheerful response was, "I'm not your mother!" So, I left it up to our own five children to do the Mother's Day honors. And, they have all been faithful in ringing her up, on the Day, through the years. Two sons call and have long chats with her. Three daughters call, and often appear in person, with flowers especially for the mother, who, in their childhood, they used to call "The Wizard" because of her wizardry in fixing or finding all manner of things in their lives with which they needed help. She was the one who knew the answer, or where to find something, or how to get some place.
She also had ideas, and information, and reflection, and advise - coming at problems with a graduate school training and experience, and with years of practical child-raising, as well as a year of teaching in the public schools of Scotland the year of her graduate study there, and another year of crossing Harlem by bus from Union Theological Seminary at Broadway and 125th Street to change at the 125th Street station to catch the New York, New Haven, and Hartford train to teach fourth grade at her own growing-up school, the Greenwich Academy.
She was a wise and exemplary teacher, even in those post college years of her own youth.
She won highest honors from her Professor at Edinburgh University. Though she never let on about all of that to her children or anyone else. It was part of her innate humility. The same spirit with which, in her 60's, as we went together to Africa at the call of World Vision to find a way to bring healing to the people of Rwanda who had lived through the horrendous genocide of April - July of 1994, she asked God in prayer: "Why have You brought me to Rwanda? I have no skills. I'm not a doctor or nurse."
She later revealed what God's answer had been. "I have brought you to Rwanda to ask their forgiveness for what you and your people of the West, did to divide them from each other."
Molly took that answer seriously. Wherever we went after that, to churches, into our own healing retreats, if asked to speak, Molly said, "God has asked me to ask your forgiveness. I am going to my knees, to ask you to pray forgiveness for me and my people." It was a stunning act of authenticity and humility.
The Africans saw that Molly and our team were authentic. So trust grew, and our work of healing prayer became possible. Molly's quiet response became the hallmark of the work God had called us to do. It has grown through 25 years and continues to deepen and spread under two succeeding leaders, Todd Bertelson and now Dr. Jim Olson.
That same quiet work of prayer and washing of feet was the genius spirited insight that made that work possible. Molly often said, "We came as already old white-haired people. The Africans loved and honored old people. Also, I am a mother, and looked like a mother, and their healing needed the kind of love a mother gives."
Molly wrote the Teacher's Guide for our retreat leaders to use. She laughs and said, "I have a thousand stories." She still tells them, and our friends understand them, and called around to support this work. For all of us on the teams, it has been a wonderful adventure - a great "joining with Jesus."
So Molly, the mother, has been the humble instinctive teacher, with Pilgrim Center teams, with a host of friends, and with our own children and grandchildren.
Even now, in the days of coronavirus, Molly has helped all of us to live through these so different, isolated days.
When I was in hospital for 12 days for pneumonia, in the lock down quarantine section, I was the lonely boy. But Molly's one word was always, "Well, here we are!" So we were, and she helped me, and our family to accept the reality, and smile, and pray. She's been our prayer leader.
How grateful I am. I love and miss my own mother. Yet the most remarkable mother I know, is the one who birthed our children, and who cheers us all, along the way. Bless her heart.
Arthur A Rouner, Jr -
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ARTHUR ROUNER MINISTRIES