My new and lovely friend Maureen, from Canada, recently read this blog and she wrote, in response:
Sadly, my own mother passed away last week ... So I've been thinking about motherhood and how my own mother addressed some huge dramas, and hardships, and losses during her life, and dedicated herself to her five (!) children. She had no interest in religion or spirituality and I honestly cannot remember a single "spiritual" thing ever coming out of her mouth ... and yet she was an amazing role model of non-judgment, caring and compassion.
Her true stature as a person is becoming clearer and clearer as time goes on. I wonder if she had had access to the kinds of teachings that we do now, whether she would have embraced a spiritual path. I suspect her rejection of religion was because it didn't sit right with her, and no alternative ever entered her world. She also didn't have the luxury of "seeking," as she was so caught up in survival issues right up until she developed Alzheimer's about eight years ago ...
I don't think much more needs to be said about your Mother. I think your writing about her tells the truth about what it really means to be spiritual. Often, when there is much discussion about spirituality, or immersion in religion, the true meaning of "being spiritual" can become very lost. I have seen this happen many, many times (frankly, it is a massive epidemic in this world); and I have seen this happen in me! Kindness, gentleness, compassion, selflessness, generosity--rather than being "goals," when they are lived because they simply make sense to a person, that seems to me to be spirituality. What a teacher and role model your mother is for us all!
Perhaps she would have found a true path for herself in the kinds of formless spirituality that seem more prevalent in the world today--but perhaps she didn't need to.
Actions do indeed speak louder than words.