When thinking of sacrifice, there are extraordinary occurrences that grab people’s attention. They are the acts of which headlines are made – Stranger Runs Into Burning Building; Soldier Carries Fellow Soldier To Safety; Teenager Saves Drowning Child. So gripping are these happenings, the lawyers in the movie-making industry seek to get the story rights from these new found heroes.
There is another form of sacrifice rarely captured in the moment as it seldom registers even in the awareness of the recipient. It is often extricated from our memories only years later as we find ourselves in a place where we have a more comprehensive view of life’s landscape. What we see tends not to be a single attention grabbing event so much as a stream of self-giving that simply was. It was woven into our lives without us noticing, leaving us with a sense of expectation, even entitlement. And then one day we find ourselves in another stage of life, and we realize all that we were given through someone else’s sacrifice. It may not come all at once, but more like a series of aha moments where the mystical haze of all that we have received disappears and we perceive what has gone into its creation. It’s like the proverbial sausage-making, something much messier and more exhausting than previously imagined.
For me, it wasn’t a single aha moment but a journey of awareness and awakening to all that I was given, and so much of it was from the hand and heart of my mother. In my younger years, there were plenty of Thank Yous, but these expressions of gratitude were more etiquette and upbringing than cognitive appreciation of what all had been required behind the scenes. Even to this day, and even with the experience of raising a child myself, I cannot fully fathom the fullness of my mother’s sacrifices made for me and my siblings. She was a single mother raising four children, much of those early years under the shadow of her grief, yet I grew up oblivious to the years of sleepless nights, financial stress and general worry. A way seemed to be made even when there did not appear to be a way. That way did not just occur, but found its way into existence because of my mother’s sacrifice, a sacrifice rooted in her love and faith and sense of responsibility. I am certain I will go to my grave never fully grasping all that I was given, and all that was required to make what was given happen.
I guess gratitude is something forever increasing and developing from the original words, “Thank You,” that were more custom and expectation when actually spoken. On this 90th anniversary of my mother’s birth, I wish to once again say, “Thank you,” for the unfathomable self-giving of which I was one of its recipients. Tomorrow, the gratitude will probably be even more aware and awe-struck as something in my own life will help divulge something previously beyond my capacity to recognize. Just a guess, but it will only continue to grow in the years to come.
Thank you, mom, for all you have done for me – especially the stuff I will never know, yet I am a better person because of it. Love you!
TODAY’S WORSHIP SERVICE
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Rev. Bruce Frogge