The Way of the Cross: “Mother” (John 19:25-27)

As we prepare for Easter, past and present Pepperdiners contribute reflections on Jesus’ journey to the cross. Today’s is from alumna Adelle Gabrielson.

John 19:25-27 Jesus speaks to his mother and beloved disciple

At the Foot of the Cross

It was the day before my graduation from Seaver College that I realized my mother was dying.

I look back at those sunshine-y photos with the blue blue ocean posturing beneath a blue blue sky, and my closest friends posing, their arms around my neck, black gowns and mortar boards trying to climb into the wind, and in all of them I am smiling. At least my face was.

By the time I turned 23 she was gone. My champion, my confidant, my closest friend was stolen by a genetic illness that replaced what should have been with dementia and disability. I lost my mother 15 years ago. Every event since then, every monumental and pivotal event in my life, I have lived and survived and I’ve done it without her. My wedding. The birth of our first child, and then our second. First house and second house. Triumphs and losses. Good days and bad days. Feast, and famine.

For the last 15 years I have lived without my mother.
But I have never been mother-less.

Near the cross of Jesus stood his mother, his mother’s sister, Mary the wife of Clopas, and Mary Magdalene. When Jesus saw his mother there, and the disciple whom he loved standing nearby, he said to her, “Woman, here is your son,” and to the disciple, “Here is your mother.” From that time on, this disciple took her into his home. – John 19:25-27 (NIV)

Jesus’ last act on the cross was a very human one. A son, the eldest son—in a patriarchal society—providing for the needs of his mother. Joseph, we can assume, is gone. There were other children but for whatever reason, Jesus did not leave her care to them. He left her care to John. The beloved friend.

To be the beloved friend of God With Us is a weighty title. John himself described this last act on the cross and I think it is important to note—Jesus did not just ask John to care for his mother, to care for a widow in her distress.

When Jesus saw his mother there, and the disciple whom he loved standing nearby, he said to her, “Woman, here is your son,” and to the disciple, “Here is your mother.”

Perhaps John needed Mary, just as much as Mary needed John.

As we, each of us, draw near to the cross this Easter, to contemplate and remember, we draw nearer, but default, to one another. It’s crowded down here at the foot of the cross – we are not alone.

As we draw near to the cross this Easter—look around. There is family waiting here for you. Whatever—whomever—you have lost, I believe that He continues to provide for us here. The community and people who join us at the foot of the cross, we are here for one another. Friends, mothers, fathers, sons and daughters.

I can never have my mother back. But in the community of people that I have joined at the foot of the cross, I have found champions, mentors, confidants and friends.

I lost my mother 15 years ago.
But I have never been mother-less.

Adelle (Seaver, ’95) is a “Writer, boy-mom, shoe addict trying to live life fearlessly with grace, humor and great shoes.” She’s also a gifted speaker, and staff member at Campbell Church of Christ. You can keep up with her consistently brilliant posts at adellegabrielson.com, and follow her on Twitter.

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6 responses to “The Way of the Cross: “Mother” (John 19:25-27)

  1. Pingback: Over here… « Adelle Gabrielson·

  2. Thanks for the link, Adelle. Happy to follow you anywhere you go – but this is news to me, that you’re a graduate of that fine place just down the road from us here in Santa Barbara. I am sorry for the loss of your mother at such a tender, transitional age – but I am grateful for the insight you offer here about the power and gift of community, perhaps most especially in the experience of loss. Thank you.

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