Saturday, May 11, 2013

For Mother's Day: Everything is Grace!

We met this caterpillar at the cemetery yesterday when he landed on our windshield!
One of the jobs of being a mother--and of being an educator--is to show children, by our example, how to handle the ups and downs of life.  I love St. Therese's phrase:  Everything is grace!  By this I think she means that God can bring good out of anything, even tragedy.

Yesterday we went to visit the cemetery where our son is buried.  He died just before birth, just minutes before Mother's Day.  The timing might seem ironic, but it's a reminder that the children entrusted to us have a home in heaven, and we hope that they will all make it there some day.  We have no idea how long we'll have with them.  On Earth we prepare them to meet their creator as best we can, and they help us, too.

What does this have to do with Montessori?  It has everything to do with it if we remember that the children in our care (even if they are "ours") belong to Him.  Like the Madonna, we help them to grow in grace and knowledge.  We teach them to have goals--including eternal ones.  Maria Montessori wrote:  "Man's growth is not just an increase; it is rather a constant metamorphosis....."  

"Alleluia" came to visit the grave with us, although she didn't understand why we were there (John died 20 months before she was born).  She was excited to see pinwheels and stuffed animals on the graves around us, and she wasn't interested in getting back in the car when it was time to go.
That's when our little friend the caterpillar landed on the windshield!

Yikes!  He just couldn't be contained!
I grabbed some clover and grass, and we put them inside my coffee mug along with him.  It was a nice distraction for Alleluia and since he was a VERY active caterpillar, he gave us something to watch and talk about during the long car ride back.  He also reminded me that, just as caterpillars are creatures that go through an enormous transformation to become a moth or butterfly, we human beings live on in a very different way after death.  This insect will build itself a chrysalis and be hidden from our eyes for a while, but then he will be a beautiful, graceful, aerial creature.  Imagine how we will be transformed!  We hope to leave this "valley of tears" and live with Love Himself.

Saying goodbye to Mr. Caterpillar.....
The caterpillar was a simple unexpected gift.  Children are gifts, too, and are not, as Montessori wrote, to be regarded merely as possessions, something to be acquired according to one's inclinations. 

[Parents with a deep respect for children] will no longer consider the child as something begotten by themselves alone and, as such, their property to do with as they please.  They will rather be vividly conscious, instead, that the child belongs to God rather than to them, existing for God rather than for them, and that they have received from God's own hand this dependent and helpless infant..." (p. 13 The Child in the Church)

"Bittersweet" is the simplest word to describe mixed emotions.  Children see and experience "bittersweet" every day, so we shouldn't be afraid for them to witness our encounters with it, too.  It's okay for children to see us cry or be sad, and they watch us very carefully to see how we handle our emotions.  It takes humility and trust to face suffering and turn it over to God, and this is just what children need to see in us.   We also need to share with them our beliefs about death, which teach them so much about life!

In the end we delivered the caterpillar to this statue of Our Lady behind school.  It's surrounded by flowers and bushes--a reminder of Mary.  Who better to understand suffering and joy than she who stood at the foot of the cross and experienced the first Easter?  May we enter her embrace one day in paradise!


  1. Very moving, and true. Happy Mother's Day.

  2. Beautiful. The Holy Mother is Smiling!

  3. Thank you for sharing this with me! St John Bernard, Pray for Us!