By Amanda Wischkaemper
Director of Children’s Formation
St. David’s hums with activity. People move quickly and frequently through the hallways and worship spaces en route to their next ministry, meeting, or meal. On Sunday mornings, this flurry of movement usually requires repeated trips up and down the stairs and around the building—all the more so when one is new to the church and prone to getting lost!
In the midst of one of these many circuitous loops through St. David’s during my first weeks here, I experienced an unexpected and profound moment of stillness and Grace. Children’s Chapel had ended, and I was accompanying the kids back to their families in the 9 a.m. service in the Historic Church. As we filed through Grace Chapel, we passed a woman sitting alone in a pew. This is not an uncommon sight at St. David’s; whether it’s a worship space or a lobby, neighbors and friends often seek comfort and quiet at the church.
After returning the children to their families during the Peace, I slipped out the back of the Sanctuary and moved quickly—again!—through Grace Chapel so that I could prepare for Sunday school downstairs. The woman remained in the pew. Her posture sagged, and her head was down. I stopped, turned around, and asked if I could help.
It was Mother’s Day, and she was weeping. She told me her story, and I listened. She was wrestling with whether to get on a bus, leave town, and start fresh. She was ready to leave her pain and bad memories behind. I no longer remember her name, but I remember the names of her three sons. Through difficult circumstances and some wrenching decisions, she had given up her children for adoption decades ago. She felt strongly that she’d made the best choice for her boys, but she grieved her sacrifice every day. On Mother’s Day, she felt this loss all the more. She mourned the time she didn’t share with her sons. She mourned the absence of that unconditional love. She mourned for the mother she might have been and questioned whether she could even call herself a mother.
We prayed together. Her faith was humbling. We held hands and thanked God for our redemption through Christ’s sacrifice. We prayed for her three grown sons and for her new journey. We thanked God for His unconditional love and asked that God grant her Peace.
I needed to leave for Sunday school, and we said our goodbyes. I think I wished her a Happy Mother’s Day. She thanked me for sitting with her, and I thanked her for sharing her story.
I’ve wondered many times what happened to her. It’s been several months, but I’ve carried those moments with me. As I shared the Parable of the Lost Sheep with the Day School students in Children’s Chapel this week—complete with the sound effects of 50 toddlers baa-ing—I thought of my Mother’s Day friend and prayed that she’d been found.