Katy Mena-Berkley, is a professional writer based in Chattanooga, Tenn. She earned her BFA in fabric design from the University of Georgia and launched her writing career with a fashion column in a local alternative newspaper. Katy’s interests in fashion and foreign culture then led her to Florence, Italy, where she interned as a contributing writer for textile publication La Spola. Since returning stateside, she has worked in reporting, editing and copywriting.
It’s Mother’s Day weekend, and I’m in a horrible mood.
The sun is shining. The birds are chirping. And the social media posts are dripping with sentiment and joy.
Everywhere I turn, commercials on radio, TV, even promotions in the yoga studio where I practice and teach are taunting me with the memory of what I have lost, mocking me for being mother-less.
Many of my friends are enjoying the weekend on the other end of the spectrum, delighting in being new moms with young, vibrant families.
My husband and I haven’t crossed into that phase in our lives quite yet. So here again, I find myself alone—isolated and irritated, which is not where I like to live.
But since my mom passed away, holidays, especially those of the Hallmark variety, conjure up my most cynical self. And I don’t like it.
This afternoon, a friend wished me a happy Mother’s Day, to which I replied with a good-natured, “Thanks. My mom’s not alive, and I don’t have any kids. But thank you anyway.”
Ugh. I’m a yoga teacher! I’m supposed to properly sift through my emotional baggage, burn the garbage away, and embrace every moment as a new opportunity to begin again—renewed, content, restored. Calm.
But even I’m not buying my own mantra at the moment.
A few hours ago my husband was putting his lunch together and took it into his man cave to eat.
“Where are you going?” I said.
“In the other room,” he replied with love and wisdom. “You are not in a good mood.”
He knows when to stay out of the eye of the storm. And so it seems I have a lot to learn.
I’m working on my own ability to steer clear of stormy skies, emotionally charged holidays that are supposed to look picture-perfect. Sometimes they don’t. Sometimes these moments look empty from the outside, missing faces of family, friends, and the illusion that life is always beautiful.
Sometimes it’s not.
And it’s in these moments when I work hardest to take my own advice.
This morning, I started the yoga class I was teaching by reading an excerpt from the Catechetical Homily of St. John Chrysostom, my favorite piece of writing.
Breathtaking in its elegance and simplicity, this text challenges us to keep going, to move through space and time with awareness and optimism, anticipating eternity with joyful expectation that we might be saved by God’s grace.
The simplicity of the prayer is staggeringly powerful in its optimism, especially following somber Holy Week services focused on the betrayal, crucifixion and agony of the Mother of God, the Theotokos, as she witnessed the murder of her only son.
It reminds us of the opportunity to accept the unconditional love of Christ and the woman who brought him into this world and understand the truth that it is never too late to begin again, to endeavor to accept loss, embrace challenge, and move forward with confidence and love.
I was blessed to call such an exquisite, radiant soul my mother. And I know that I will see her again. But today, she would want me to rejoice, treasuring my memories and living in the present with peace.
I may not feel happy every waking moment of every day, especially those days when it’s easy to feel forgotten or left out. Instead, my work is to recognize my emotion. Accept it. And then move on. It’s never too late to start over, and we are never alone.
“If any be weary with fasting, let him now receive his reward. If any has toiled from the first hour, let him receive his just debt. If any came after the third, let him gratefully celebrate. If any arrived after the sixth, let him not doubt; for he too shall sustain no loss. If any delayed to the ninth, let him come without hesitation. If any arrived only at the eleventh hour, let him not be afraid by reason of his delay; for the Master is gracious and receives the last, even as the first. He gives rest to him who arrives at the eleventh hour, as well as to him who has labored from the first.”— from the Paschal Catechetical Homily of St. John Chrysostom
Χριστὸς ἀνέστη, everyone! Rejoice!
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