May 11, 2007

Faithful Lines / Shirley Vogler Meister

Recapping the miracles of motherhood

Shirley Vogler MeisterEvery Mother’s Day, I enjoy sweet nostalgia remembering the various stages of motherhood that I have enjoyed but also endured.

A mother’s life is bittersweet. Even the Blessed Mother knew the joys and the sorrows of her role.

Now, I share with my readers this Mother’s Day weekend a delightful anthology with yearlong relevancy titled Miracles of Motherhood: Prayers and Poems for a New Mother.

Published by Center Street/Hachette Book Group (, this book comes from seasoned writer and speaker June Cotner, who has produced 15 other beautiful theme collections (

The blessing of the Miracles book, however, is that it is a timeless volume encompassing pregnancy, birth, new baby, babyhood, the toddler years, christenings, reflections and inspiration. Compact and easy to read, it is a perfect gift at any time.

Father Paul Keenan, a columnist for Catholic New York and host of the “Religion on the Line” radio talk show, captured the essence of Cotner’s book when he said, “The soul of motherhood dances, sings and plays in these inspiring pages.”

Father Keenan did not exaggerate. I smiled, laughed, shed happy tears and was filled with wonder by the short exemplary poems and prayers from more than 80 talented writers.

Two poems are written by an Indianapolis friend, Joanne Keaton, who I met when we were non-traditional students earning degrees through Indiana University Purdue University Indianapolis.

One of Keaton’s poems titled “Generations,” altered from its poetic form to save column space, reflects on motherhood:

“Gazing at your tiny head/it’s not always you I see/Instead, I can imagine/my mom holding me/just as her mother cuddled her/One day you may embrace/a babe of your own—and/now and then think of me.”

The book represents timeless emotions shared by parents for millenniums. In her poem titled “Little One,” Mary Lenore Quigley writes:

“Sleep/cradled in God’s love/Crawl/Feel earth’s pulse nourish your every breath/Stand/Meet the world eye to eye/Smile/gather your courage/then/run with the wind.”

The poems encompass nearly every emotion and experience one can have as God’s helpmate in the miracle of creation.

At the book’s beginning, Cotner writes a short “Letter to Readers” in which she says, “Parenting is unpredictable. You summon patience that you didn’t even know you had. Being a mom is hard—but also extremely gratifying. Nobody can move you, complete you, strengthen you or make you laugh like your child. If you succeed as a mother, which you will, the rewards are endless.”

When one of my daughters suffered from early colic, my doctor said, “This is a test of the mother’s mettle.”

So I especially understood Susan Landon’s poem titled “When You Need to Rest” about parenting babies:

“Little babies/need you/around the clock/Perhaps it’s then/through sleeplessness/that you learn/how strong you are.”

Everything in Cotner’s collection comes from heartfelt strength.

(Shirley Vogler Meister, a member of Christ the King Parish in Indianapolis, is a regular columnist for The Criterion.) †

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