“The deepest form of generosity is presence.” – Tara Brach
I don’t remember a moment from childhood where my mom hurried me. I’m sure there were moments – given how much my parents went through in their twenties, God, there had to have been moments. But what comes to mind when I think of my mother’s ways when I was a young child is how she was present.
She took the time to read to me, put French braids in my hair, pack my lunch (a practice she still will do today, almost 40 years later, if I am staying with them!), and sing to me at night to tuck me into bed. I remember her taking me to a park that I loved so I could climb and run. And now as a mom just to two children, I think, “How did she do that?! How did she create the space for just the two of us to do something together?!” I remember her creating space for me to put on a record and dance in the family room. I remember my mom sitting with me and looking at the JCPenney catalogue where we’d order a new bedspread and curtains for me. Most of all, I remember my mom looking at me with total devotion – as if only I mattered in that moment. I have no visceral feeling of being rushed or hurried. I remember being seen and held in those moments of my mom sitting with me.
My mom would’ve had valid reasons to not be present, to hurry me. She was friends in high school with the gentleman who would later be our dad and supported him through a tragic loss at the age of 18. All before the age of 30, she and my dad had four children, she nursed her mom through cancer and dying when she was 21 and pregnant with me, she lost her dad suddenly three years later and she had pneumonia so bad that one of her lungs had to be removed. This is all while my dad was in college full-time, studying for his CPA exam, and working full-time.
She would’ve had good reason to turn negative, to turn inward and think the world – including God – was against her. She could’ve closed off her heart, keeping all she could for herself. But she didn’t. In fact, I’d imagine her heart opened even wider – because that’s what I remember about my mom. Her heart was open, welcoming…and devoted. Yes, that’s what I remember about my childhood – her devotion – to us, to this world, and to the Divine.
Throughout my life, people have told me what a lovely person my mom is. She embodies a powerfully feminine way of being compassionate, focusing on what matters, and prayer. She has transformed suffering with a deep devotion to love.
That’s what suffering can do – if we choose. In every single moment there is a choice – to open, to surrender, to let go, to embrace what matters, and to let Grace pick us up off the floor and show how to heal by taking the next right step to choose love in this very moment. Suffering – the “everyday” kinds of suffering and the deeper, tragic sufferings – can sift out what so doesn’t matter. It can wake us up to how we are devoting our time, energy, thoughts, and heart. It can call forth a deep devotion to love.
And as we celebrated my mom’s birthday last week, I am reminded of how even today, her deep devotion to love is evident in everything she does. From how she carefully selects and cuts strawberries in bite sized pieces for my daughter, smiles so deeply at my son as he whips by us on his bike, and brings pistachios for my kiddos to have protein, to how she sends me a text reminding me of my goodness, the need to rest, how exquisite my poetry and eyes and presence are, and how my deep capacity for love flows into how I love my family and this world.
I think that I, too, am living a life a deep devotion to love. Letting go of any trying, pushing through, or “making happen,” and surrendering to Love.
Friends, there are many pressures on us to hurry and rush. I find that today, in this day and age, when someone is actually fully present with me, tears come to my eyes. This is not how to live. This is not how we care and feel cared for. And while, yes, we “have to get things done,” can we look at our lives and say, “But do I have to do so much?!” Together let’s look at what we are devoted to. I spent years devoted to “doing good” in this world – and getting really burned out. Over the years of being a mom, I see how, more and more, I am devoting myself to THIS moment. THIS opportunity to pause and be present. THIS look of love. I surely don’t do it perfectly AT ALL. I just yelled at my kiddos last night to hurry up and get into bed. BUT my attention and intention is on living with a deep devotion to love. And loving in ways that are slow, nourishing, and tender. And I know that I am embodying such tenderness and devotion with every little choice of how I go about my day.
So maybe today, ask yourself, “What am I devoted to? Where is my attention? What is my intention?” And choose to follow the deep devotion of your heart.
Lisa A. McCrohan
MA, LCSW-C, RYT
Mom. Compassion Coach. Psychotherapist. Delight passionista.
** Folks, currently I have TWO OPEN COACHING SPOTS. If you could use some compassion and mindfulness practices in your everyday life to feel nourished and to more deeply be present to the dear ones in your life, please contact me. AND…soon this blog will be totally integrated with my website and I’ll be closing this blog. The website is in a total state of “under construction” right now! But soon, we’ll be moving the blog over there and I’ll be asking all of you to sign up for blog updates on there so you can continue to get these gems. I hope you are nourished in your day and you are inspired to live with more delight, compassion, and connection in your everyday life. Visit the Barefoot Barn for more information (again, it’s a work in progress right now!)