Mustard seeds are small, stubborn, and selfish -- which are also words one could use to describe me, as long as you also whisper "petty" under your breath, too. In the Parable of the Mustard Seed, we're told that faith as small as this can, if tended, if noticed and cared for, can provide shelter. My mother, saying, "Have a beautiful life," when that isn't the story I have ever told myself, or others, about my mother's love for me, was a shattering and obliterating piece of love and forgiveness -- given and asked for -- when I wasn't sure I deserved it at all.
My mom is 73 this year, pocked with Alzheimer's, haunted by ghosts and it can be tough to suss out from her description how many are phantoms of the mind, how many are figments of her imagination, and how many, if any, are visitors from some past Other Side. If they have a message for her, it must be frustrating. She won't remember it. "Well, your brother Michael's dead," she explained to my brother. This was after she and I had talked on the phone. I'm going to tell a story about her, and it's a Gentlemen's Agreement story where we're going to agree, thee and me, that I am telling you the truth.