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Thursday, October 28, 2021

In Our Nature: The Mother’s Love

Just the right amount of sunlight, just the right amount of rain. With these balances and a little fertile ground, the seed becomes the tree. The branches will find a shape of their own design, but by what providence have they grown under? It is the nurturing of the Earth that brings the tree up hearty and strong – the nutrients beneath its roots, the wind beneath its leaves. In this loving care, the tree rises from its green cradle to stand tall on its own. But it’s never really alone.

In many ways, human growth follows a path similar to that of the trees. There are many factors that affect how we become who we are, but the providence by which we grow is the loving care of what or who raised us. However, unlike the wild trees I described above, we’re part of society’s carefully cultivated garden, and those who have raised us have been the most gracious and compassionate gardeners the world has ever known. They are the mothers and mother figures in our lives. With Mother’s Day coming this Sunday, I’d like to say a few words about what they mean to us and to the Earth.

Now, there are many ways people go about being mothers, and that’s one of the reasons we see such wonderful diversity of character all around us. But I can only talk about my own experience, and I am incredibly blessed and grateful to say that my mother is one of the most generous, caring, compassionate persons I’ve ever known. She’s been there through all of my life’s brightest and darkest moments to support me and make sure things are alright. Sometimes this has consisted of big stuff: going to any length to help me when I’ve made a mistake too big for me alone to fix, or holding me when my world feels like it’s falling apart. More often it’s just little things: the hugs she would give me before school every day, or the great food I can count on receiving nearly every time I go home. But at the center of it all is the one guiding spirit all mother figures share: the selfless love with boundless generosity.

What I’ve come to see, and what I want to share with you today, is that the source of this love lies at the center of the source of all things, Mother Nature herself. Now, some might find this strange; maybe to them, nature seems a dispassionate monolith, doling out rewards and punishments according to impersonal and unvarying laws. But how can such a reduction capture how it feels to see the look in a mother’s eyes when she gazes upon her newborn child? To smell the rain as it brings new life to the parched land? To feel the warmth of a loved one’s embrace spread through your body all the way to the corners of your soul? Everywhere around us, we can see and feel how Nature nurtures and embraces the beautiful world to which she gave life. And even with all her power, it is with a most intimate tenderness that she coaxes her progeny higher and stronger into the best version of whatever they were made to be.

To mother, therefore, is to accept Nature’s highest calling. Caring for the people and things one loves is what we were meant to do, an inclination embedded so integrally in our roots that it fails to even require a reason. Those who mother connect with the greatest and truest good that nature offers: the deep and abiding love living in the heart of all things.

So this Mother’s Day, we should all try to find a way, if we can, to give back to those mothers and mother figures who have given us so much. But in the spirit of the selfless love mothers really work under , I’d like to suggest that we all take the next step and pay it forward. Plant a flower; make a new friend; tell somebody you love how much they mean to you. When raised by gardeners, gardeners we too can become. Spend some time nurturing the garden of your loved ones, and like a mother you too can bring a little more love into the world.

Happy Mother’s Day, Mom! I hope you liked this one; it’s for you.

Look up, look out, look around – love is in our nature.

Nick Jensen can be reached at njensen@ucdavis.edu

Graphic by Sandra Bae.

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