I never would have expected it. I just wanted to take the Montana roommate out for some good Mexican food. I've been to that restaurant dozens of times, ordered the same thing, never even bothered to look at a menu, and I am caught completely by surprise. I don't even remember how it started, just the poignant joy. My mother telling stories fifty years old, stories I've never heard before, dripping rich with heritage and history. Stories of growing up in Mexico, living with her grandparents while her widowed mother works cleaning houses for those living the American dream, trying to provide, and her siblings go to school.
We laugh at the stories of a frizzy-haired girl, skin sun-darkened, running around the dirt roads of Mexico in nothing but a pair of ruffled underwear, sipping tea and munching on cookies while her grandfather hangs out with his buddies. We laugh until we cry as she tells us how she and her cousins made mud pies decorated with bottle caps and rocks and actually sold them to neighbors.. until those kind souls began locking them out because they had enough bottle cap pies to last a lifetime.
And when we get to the part where I'm picturing that five year old girl who would one day become my mother standing in line at the mill with her bucket of maiz boiled with cilantro and lime clad, as usual, only in her ruffled underwear and faithfully waiting to take masa home so her grandmother - my great-grandmother - can make the day's tortillas... When we get to that part, I see my mother is really crying as she remembers how happy those days were when all she had was all she needed. And I have never loved her more, this woman who has loved me and hurt with me and raised me. Her pictures are still so vivid and I can see her pulling them up in the theater of her mind. Grandfather, the Spaniard with khaki shirt and pants, straw hat and ankle-high boots. Grandmother with her mantilla around her head, floor-length skirt encircling her as she sits by the fire cooking tortillas - hand molding them and placing them on the comal one by one. My mother counting and recounting the gifts. And I feel the prickling sting of conviction for the number of times I have cried out that it is not enough when it is and it always will be.
And I marvel in the mystery of stories written on hearts. Generations forming and reforming. Good always outweighing bad. Joy transcending. God always present, even if unknown or unnoticed. And truly it doesn't make sense. How the messiness of life can somehow be forgotten in light of the joyful memories. How, when all we have is all we need, it is enough. And there is this mystery to it. A mystery to love transcending. A mystery to every relationship in our lives. A mystery to how a life begins and where a life can lead. And I marvel in it each day. Ecclesiastes says it this way, "Just as you do not know how the breath enters the bones in a mother's womb, so you do not know the work of God who makes everything." (11:5) Ah yes. A mother's story. A life's beginning. A life's living. God's work. Every one, every day, a mystery in which to marvel.