Honor Your Father and Your Mother

September 5, 2012

Exodus 20:12

"Honor your father and your mother so that you may have a long life in the land which the Lord your God has given to you."

Reflection by Anthony B. Robinson

My wife and I were nervous about my 94-year-old mother's impending visit to the family cabin this summer. We had spent the weeks before she came remodeling, adding a new bathroom to the nearly 100-year-old structure built by my own grandparents. When my parents were the stewards of the cabin their policy had been to maintain the place as a kind of living museum. No changes.

The first time we steered her to the new bathroom, we held our breath. Pushing her walker across the threshold, she stopped, looked around, then said, "This is nice. This is really very nice." (Because she has short-term memory loss, each subsequent time she used the new bathroom was also the 'first' time, and every time she said, "This is very nice.")

On my mother's last day, we again steered her to the "new bathroom." "We have a new bathroom?" she asked. My wife said, "Well, next year it won't be the 'new' bathroom any longer." My mother stopped, looked up, and with sudden full clarity - and a wry smile - said, "Oh yes, it will be the 'new' bathroom for a very long time."

While my father is gone now, both he and my mother lived to a proverbial "ripe old age." For both, however, aging brought challenge and loss. My father had Alzheimer's, my mother has dementia. Still, both have borne these infirmities with grace and good humor.

While people today sometimes lament longer life expectancies and accompanying decline - which I understand - I am grateful for these bonus years in which I have been given the chance to learn more deeply what it means to "honor your father and your mother."

Prayer

Grant us grace, Holy One, to know and to honor our parents. Amen.

About the Author
Anthony B. Robinson, a United Church of Christ minister, is a speaker, teacher and writer. His newest book is Called to Lead: Paul's Letters to Timothy for a New Day, and he is also the author of the just-published Book of Exodus: A God is still speaking Bible Study. Read his weekly reflections on the current lectionary texts at www.anthonybrobinson.com by clicking on Weekly Reading.

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