We live in a moment in time when both – motherhood and boyhood – are not only the subject of societal confusion, but – worse – actually under attack.
Although the Church is vilified in the world for “waging a war on women,” the truth is that the most beautiful and faithful professions on the dignity of life, on human anthropology, on women as specially created and worthy of protection, have come – through the centuries – from Holy Mother Church. When the staunchest, strongest defender of women and womanhood is so misunderstood and slandered, we know we are living in an age of deception and semantic confusion. Do not be misled!
This poignant short film gives a glimpse of motherhood: gentle, interior, feminine… yet also strong: sacrificial, self-giving, vigilant, watchful. It’s a nostalgic picture from a child’s view of his deceased mother. She may no longer be with her son, Casey, but her love has tilled the soil and cultivated a soul. He is, because she loved. There is no doubting her love, even as a memory… indeed, that’s because it is more than a memory. The mother’s love lives on after her life and active motherhood have come to a physical, temporal end. Love is beyond time.
We might also reflect on the Motherhood of the Blessed Virgin. She too would have suffered the anguish of foreknowledge of her son’s pain (like Casey’s mother, who writes to him as she’s dying). But she loved as only a mother can love, nurtured as a mother nurtures, cultivated her son in love and held nothing back. She cooperated with her son’s preparation for the world – for the sake of his BECOMING. We cannot tell the story of the Son without noting the participation of his mother.
The boy in the film, Casey, is a good boy. He’s instantly the picture of classic boyhood: bright, curious, bold, inventive, active. A boy of adventure. A boy full of the wonder of childhood. Books. Bikes. Legos. Kites. Friends. Science experiments.
He is a boy who has been allowed to be a boy, and he is thriving. Even – apparently – since losing his mother, he is sustained in his mother’s love.
Sadly, though, this reassuring archetype of boyhood is quite different from the reality of many boys’ lives. While not everyone may be lucky enough to grow up with the stability and love that Casey enjoys, all boys deserve the freedom of adventure, of play, of exploration, and most of all, of INNOCENCE.
Despite the brutal reality of the loss of a parent, Casey’s boyhood is an innocent one, and the grown-up Casey has made this lovely film as a tribute to his mother and to his childhood. He looks back on this sad story through a lens of wholeness and health. He had an innocent, playful childhood, filled with love.
How many children today can play outside so freely? How many boys – especially boys – read books quietly to entertain themselves AND grow their minds and attention spans and repertoires of curiosity? How many can play, learn, grow safely… secure in the love of the home and a nurturing world beyond the home?
Alas, too many boys cannot do these things, because their homes and their neighborhoods, their schools and their worlds are not conducive to innocence and wonder and boyhood. Regardless of their material wealth or poverty, too many boys today are cultivated in environments which harden and accelerate and mislead them about life and what manhood looks like. For their very survival, boys are coarsened. But we know that they were not made to merely survive.
Boyhood is sacred, because a proper boyhood is the ladder towards Manhood.
Jesus too had a boyhood – in a body, in an active mind, presumably a playful and curious and wondering childhood. Would he have climbed trees? Listened to and told stories? Chased friends along footpaths? Obeyed his parents and at times tested them? Some of these things, we know he did. Others, we can only wonder about.
What we do know is that the Almighty God lived a human boyhood, and that his boyhood cultivated him in ways that prepared him for manhood and for his ultimate destiny and purpose. We also know he loved his mother. We know that he would forever – both before and after his own earthly life as well as her own – set aside a special place for her in salvation history, Mater Dei, Mater Ecclesiae.
Motherhood and Boyhood – sanctified by God. The Church and our own lives remind us of this, and we ought always to remember.
“I will always be here for you. Even though I may not be with you.”