Unconditional Love

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Unconditional Love

My mother birthed me in twelve minutes. Mine was the seventh body to pass through her womb in ten years. She said I was born hungry and happy - a chubby smiling baby girl.

I am surrounded by faces and touched by hands, cooed at and kissed. I am cradled in the tiny baby holder my dad built so that my mom could cook with me on the counter top. In the afternoons, when my older siblings come home from school, I am passed around; each takes their turn with me, trying to get me to giggle and smile. I oblige them. And evenings, I am taken out, a new wave of smiles and warmth peers in at me as I lie in my stroller. I am never alone.

I am in my mother?s arms in a dark room, in a rocking chair. My ear hurts and she is stroking my back. I am crying and she is singing. I fall asleep.

My mother is doing the laundry; I crawl in the huge pile of dirty ?whites? and smell my father?s Old Spice. I am shooed away. I find my own way around the big old house. I creep up the steep crooked steps to my oldest brother?s attic bedroom. Only the smell of mothballs is there and I crawl backwards down. In the morning my mom rushes around to get the others ready for school. I am in the bathroom alone, no more diapers for me. I want to be ?grown up.? I use half a roll of toilet paper. I can hear my mom calling my name impatiently ? she has to get the others to school. I emerge smelly but proud and my haggard mom just smiles and laughs to herself as she cleans me up.

When I think about my journey I think about this beginning. I think about the gifts of such a baby?s life: love, freedom and trust. These gifts sustain a life ? or I should say, my life ? and balance the darkness and fears that inevitably emerge. A woman I inter...

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...ned to the confident playful tomboy? Everything changed ? no football with the boys, no sleepovers at David?s house. I decided I would go away to school. I had learned the rules well enough to earn a scholarship to a boarding school ninety minutes away from home. After a few months away, I wrote to my mom of the shame I felt about my sin, how I felt like a terrible person for doing what I did and for making her cry. In response, she wrote:

What you did was neither good nor bad.

It only proves that you are part of the human race,

struggling and striving ? sometimes falling down.

The important thing is to learn from it and let it go.

And with these simple words my mother sent me on a seeker?s life. She released me from guilt and allowed me to embrace the journey. What I learned then was the transformational power of unconditional love.
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