The story was about a nun in California who began a program called "Get on the bus". This program brings busloads of children to visit their mothers in prison on Mother's Day. The amount of thought and sensitivity behind the program is insightful and touching. Volunteers work with the foster care system and with counselors to ensure the well being of the children. They also work with the prison system to ensure that none of the incarcerated mothers are sex offenders or have been imprisoned for child abuse.
The article outlined how the children would meet early on Mother's Day morning at a local church. There they participated in a prayer service, then boarded the bus with a host of snacks and volunteers for the two hour ride to the prison. Once inside, the moms and children were able to visit in a large room together and engage in activities and games. Volunteers took pictures of the children with their moms...one for the mother to keep, and one for the child to bring home. Then the children boarded the bus alongside these loving volunteers, many of whom are counselors, and traveled home. Some sat in reflective silence, others needed to talk. The nun in the story acknowledged all of the risks involved, but felt that they are outweighed by the love that forever bonds a mother and child. I left the gym in tears, thinking that it was compassion spilling forth. On closer examination, it was really regret. Having been a foster parent, having tried to offer love and stability to children whose parents couldn't, I had developed a sense of righteous indignation. Although I understood a child's loyalty to his or her mother, I never saw the situation soley through the eyes of love. Then I began to think about all of the situations we form opinions about that we as society don't deem as "worthy" or "acceptable" versions of hallmark motherhood. I went to prayer, because it was the only place my heart could go in its pain. Here is my heartfelt, albeit a little challenging Mother's Day prayer: Dear God, please be with the mother who is hungry and gives what little she has to her children. I know your hand holds that of the mother at her dying child's bedside; and that your arms encircle every mother who fears leaving this world before her children are grown. You ache for the mothers whose children are missing. I am certain of your presence with mothers who are incarcerated, and with mothers whose children are no strangers to the legal system. I take refuge in the thought that your grace flows into the hearts of mothers who shield their children from violence, and of those whose children commit acts of violence. You are there with the mothers who pick up the pieces of broken hearted children. Your love shines through every woman who has ever held the hand of a child and showed him something beautiful; whether mother, teacher, aunt, or friend. You hear the cries of those who can't bear children, and of those who can't bear to have them. Be our strength and our eyes, helping us to view all mothers and their children through the eyes of love. Help us to breathe in the joy of motherhood and to share the sorrows. Please remind us often that we are one in love. Amen