Many of history’s scholars kept a skull on their desks, as a reminder of the brevity of life. While As we live in an age of pithy self-esteem and positivity, these memento mori, as they were called, may seem morbid to our modern eyes and ears. However, they served the purpose of placing our lives in the eternal backdrop as a mist, a vapor and the blink of an eye.
I do not have a skull on my desk, nor do I actually much time sitting at my desk. To be honest, my desk is cluttered with books and dust and few handmade Lego placards made by my tiny men. I do, however, have a memento mommy that I have collected.
While running (which looks more like jogging and walking intermittently these days) a few weeks ago, I found myself processing and praying through motherhood and its brevity.
We have three boys. Two of them are old enough to read novels and share them with me, to go on a run with me, to stay home while I run to get bread at the grocery store. One of them just chose to donate his toy tool set to Goodwill on the self-taught premise that “They were getting too babyish.” They can all dress themselves (notice I did not say match or look well kept) and use the restroom without any aid.
These may sound like molehills to you, but I vividly remember the day when these far off benchmarks looked more like the Himalayan mountains to me. While our days of strollers and diapers seem like spots in the rearview mirror, the horizon seems to hold many new mountain ranges. Middle school decisions, puberty, driving lessons and other tall peaks loom ahead of us.
All these thoughts were running through my head as my feet attempted to run beneath me. Lord, you said that if any man (or mom) lacks wisdom, he (she) should ask of you who freely gives without any reproach. Here I am again, as always, in need of wisdom for these boys.
Smiling, I stopped dead in my tracks upon seeing a cluster of three empty acorn caps. Since moving to San Diego, the land of a thousand palms, acorns have become treasures to me. I stooped down and picked it up, this timely memento mommy.
I found in the tiny treasure a perfect reminder of the fleeing nature of these days of motherhood. Right now, the weight of the acorns that the Lord has entrusted to my husband and I seems heavy. The role of protecting and providing and posturing these literal and figurative nuts seems to be out of my expertise and far-beyond the capacity of this momma.
Yet, in time, these acorns of mine, little oaks in the making, will be sent out to their proper places where they will be planted. I will be left with a cluster of three empty acorn cases.
Far from making me a morbid momma, the reality of the empty acorn caps propelled me back into the trenches of motherhood with perspective. These days are long, but the years are short. I only have so much time to nurture these would-be oaks, to position and posture them toward the Lord, to enjoy them, to study and shape them.
Your people shall all be righteous; they shall possess the land forever, the branch of my planting, the work of my hands, that I might be glorified. The least one shall become a clan, the smallest one a mighty nation. I am the Lord; in its time I will hasten it. Isaiah 60: 21-22
…That they might be called oaks of righteousness, the planting of the Lord, that He may be glorified. They shall build up the ancient ruins; they shall raise up the former devastations, they shall repair the ruined cities, the devastation of many generations. Isaiah 61: 3-4
Lord, may we glorify you as we seek to raise up oaks of righteousness. May we enjoy these acorns while they are under our care. May we also so entrust our identities to you so that even when our caps are empty casings, we are filled with deeper purposes and praises. Amen.