Thursday, November 4, 2010
Today I prayed for a man who is only in his forties and nearing death. He is blind and in kidney failure. It will not be long, they say. His family suspects he has given up. Facing the end of life with no wife and no children, there is only one thing he responds to: the voice of his mother.
As I prayed it came to me: This same voice that was the first to be heard in utero may speak the last words heard as her son departs this life. There is such intimacy in that realization. My heart was heavy for them both.
How powerful this voice of a mother is in our lives! How beyond comprehension is the connection to heart or soul or spirit - not merely to our ears - is this voice of a mother. Do we appreciate the opportunity that is ours to speak words of wholeness....of loving...of forgiving...of encouraging into the lives of those who have been given to us?
This is not just my hunch. Scientists found the link between a mother's voice and the 'hug response' indisputable. U.S. endocrinologists' findings earlier this year at the University of Wisconsin Madison and published in a U.K. journal, showed a mother's voice had the result of calming teenage girls whether heard in person or on the phone. Her voice alone was able to lower elevated levels of the stress hormone, cortisol, and boost levels of oxytocin. * And the benefit continued after the stressful encounter of the testing was finished; there were lasting benefits in keeping cortisol lower, it said. I hope we are listening.
I know moms who recklessly assail their children with barbs and caustic remarks just as toxic as drain cleaner, leaving them raw and wounded for a long, long time. Not surprisingly, these patterns tend to repeat in families. We never know what happens in the homes of others and what hurt children carry with them from damage inflicted carelessly from mothers and fathers. You may be the neighbor, or the teacher, or the best friend's mom, or the coach, or aunt who will be the one to step into that place of loving affirmation and offer another model for a child whose mother could not or did not live into her highest calling. Being a birth mother is not the requirement. There are adoptive moms who have embraced motherhood as the gift it is and bridged a gap making a new way of life possible for a child.
Do not wait to have the last word to speak words of healing and love and wholeness of spirit. Live with as few regrets as possible. Lord, let us seize that privilege while we can.
* http://www.guardian.co.uk/science/2010/may/12/mother-phone-call-study-us-oxytocin and http://psychcentral.com/news/2010/05/14/mothers-voice-calms-stress/13825.html