The nervous phone calls commenced several weeks ahead of Mother's Day. Dee wouldn't just come right out and say it, but she was nervous about the impending holiday. She was, she claimed, preparing her Mother's Day sermon and she needed a sounding board. Now Dee was an accomplished writer and movie critic. She had also rewritten 'Harry Potter' with a female protagonist-modeled after me. She didn't really need me. Her little congregation boasted some 20 or so souls. Small town Indiana folk. Pastoring that church must have fulfilled something in her...
I knew her as the flamboyant, red-head in voluminous new age goddess regalia, who could sometimes be found with her tribe dancing naked beneath the full moon in the rear garden of her mansion. The mansion was a sight...built by William Hearst of publishing fame. Hand-painted Chinese silk wall coverings, gold-plated plumbing fixtures, stunning imported tiles from Italy, exquisite chandeliers and the finest European woodwork. The mansion had seen better days, the neighbor-hood around it having fallen into decay, but for many years Dee was the grand dame of the place. She cut quite a figure about town. Dee also attracted husbands that were colorful in their own ways. She wound up with an assortment of scoundrels by whom she had 2 daughters.
Her offspring certainly fulfilled the Taoist concept of the karmic nature and make- up of children. As it was taught to me by a most curious Mongolian master, each child that is born into a family reflects the energy of the parents at the moment of their conception.
If that isn't loaded enough, the child also carries the karmic heritage of each parents lineage back to time immemorial, which, when you think about it, makes great good sense.
We don't just inherit their DNA. We inherit them! There's history in that DNA!
Now comes the clincher. Each child is considered a slightly older soul than the parents and they have come in to teach their parents. That doesn't go down so well in the West where kids are believed to be blank slates. We mold them as we see fit. What do they have to teach us, we scoff?!
But another, perhaps older and wiser, culture would view that child as one that carries wisdom and experience.
Beyond that, they are recently arrived from the 'other side' with at least some memories intact. They can thus renew our jaded spirits...we who have forgotten so much.
One other sticky point is that the offspring are here to work out the karma of each parental lineage (as are we) and they arrive with some of their own particular karmic baggage. That's a lot to lay on an innocent kid!
Consequently we do a rather miserable job of parenting. Dee's daughters were a study in extremes and opposites and they had fierce intellects to go with their crazy-making attributes. This made for a fair bit of mayhem in their household. Let's face it-they were ALL larger than life!
Throw in a dash of astrology - Dee was pure unadulterated Capricorn surrounded by Leos all - craving that center stage. The family had devolved into an array of passive aggressive tactics and fiendishly clever barbed words so as to avoid the hurling of sharp cutlery and heavy crockery,
Dee's daughters were grown, married and had their own children by now, but they were still awkwardly tangled up in the orbit of their formidable mother. Insult and injury followed insult and injury over the years. Ever more cunning tactical maneuvers were plotted and executed. It was unthinkable that any of the parties would retreat or stand down. Some degree of hostility forever simmered beneath the thin crust of civility.
Pastor Dee's Mother's Day Sermon took a most unexpected direction. In her frank and outspoken way, she had decided to tackle the dark side of the mother. This was going to whip the hide of her unsuspecting congregants. First there was the Possessive Mother in all her manifestations. The Scheming Mother with her devious ways followed from there. Then there was the Perfectionist Mother for whom nothing was ever good enough. The dreaded Me-First Mother made her appearance in the line-up, as did the fearsome Controlling Mother and a few more that I didn't care to think about. All in all, though, it was a gutsy, hard-hitting hellfire-and-brimstone Mother's Day sermon. You would never see motherhood the same way again.
Interspersed with her characters, her anxiety around her daughters was rising palpably. The chief affront at the time was that Dee readied the house, cooked a stunning meal and sat there alone wondering how late they were going to be THIS time. Every year she was determined that she would be pleasant no matter what. Nothing would mar their special time. But all this fretting eventually gave way to simmering rage and when her daughters finally strolled in as though nothing was wrong, Dee would let them have it with both dinner plates and soup ladles! Harsh words and tears, accusations and torrents of weeping undid all of the progress made since the previous holiday. It was all a superb theater of passive aggressive hostilities.
But THIS time, it would be different, Dee declared!
So, for weeks, she ostensibly worked on her sermon with me, parsing out the various permutations of dark motherhood. But it was becoming apparent that what she really needed was someone to see her side and support her cause. Every night was rehearsal night for the big event. Her sermon enlarged...she conjured up a dozen types. It was actually quite cleverly done. It was incisive. It would no doubt cleave soul from spirit. It was certainly the antithesis of a Hallmark holiday. I decided to get busy praying for her unsuspecting congregants. "Oh God, Please let them be hard of hearing!"
Meanwhile, she practiced on me, imagining all the different things that could go wrong and how she would sweetly and triumphantly rise above the fray, no matter what. The final rehearsal on the eve of Mother's Day was tense and angst-ridden, but we got through it and I wished her well.
On the following day, I held vigil for her congregants as well as for her daughters. I knew Dee would call as soon as they left to let me know how things had gone.
On the fateful day, I waited and waited for her call. Too much time had gone by. Something was not right. When the call finally came, Dee was beside herself with furious indignation! Over the next hour, she gave me the hideous blow by blow account. Late again! No excuse or apology accepted! Now the daughters' side of the event sounded reasonable enough and they had tried to make peace, but Dee was out for blood.
Sight unseen, I was hauled in to support Dee's side of the events. In all honesty, I couldn't do it. She had set them up to fail and she was pretty vicious about it. When I hesitated to confer a blessing on her actions, Dee was quick to pick up on it. There was no escaping the wrath that was about to be turned my way.
There was a moment of clarity that came through...
As gently as I could, I said to her "Dee...in your sermon, you left out one kind of mother...the Angry Mother."