Turning My Chair to Face My Mother

James Anthony Ellis 
Legacy Magazine Editor

Because I wanted to really reach in and find that big victory in my life, I sat still with the question in my mind for a time. Though the success story that arises in my mind holds no huge fanfare, I think I got it.

Reviewing the landscape of the past, there are a number of wins I’ve experienced:

  • Producing a couple documentaries that supported the best in our society – children freed from sex trafficking, and law enforcement getting the support it needs to be at its best.
  • Writing eight books on topics of most importance to me – honor, metaphysics, communication, etc.
  • Finding my wife.
  • Running a marathon.
  • Countless poems, plays, blogs, articles and films, the latter of which included one premiere that was complete with a red carpet, stanchions, search lights and a limo.

But beyond any glitter and glory, I sunk into another experience that really mattered, one that I consider at this time one of the biggest.

It was about my mother. It was an experience where the delusion of separation was dissolved, the pain of misunderstanding was released, and the realization of the light was revealed.

Since the experience illuminated my mind with that which transcends this material world, no success of the material world could match it.

The experience brings to mind a couple of quotes from the sacred text A Course In Miracles:

  • If you achieve the faintest glimmering of what love means today, you have advanced in distance without measure and in time beyond the count of years to your release.
  • The holiest place on earth is where an ancient hatred has become a present love.

Now, there was not an “ancient hatred” with my mom, but there was definitely some upset, disappointment and anger that kept me from loving and even seeing my mother clearly.

The back story – growing up, I felt neglected, unimportant. No abuse really. Just a sense that my thoughts and emotions were meaningless. Not able to shake that belief in my little kid brain, I grew up distant and distrusting. I was so distant I would go into my bedroom and close the door behind me every day, as if to say, “Leave me alone; you will never understand; you probably don’t love me anyway.” And I did this without even thinking that my mother would notice let alone care.

Fast forward a decade – to a time when I’m in my late 20s. I am living in San Diego, about 90 miles south from where I grew up.

My church was having a special service for those couples that wished to take part in a “Re-commitment Ceremony.” Though this may have been intended for married couples to recommit their vows to each other, there were a few of us who took it outside of the box. I thought that I had been distant with my mother over the past few years, so I would invite her to this service where we could recommit to a loving adult parent-child relationship.

Family – Mother and Son included.

I didn’t know what magic would come of this.

The ceremony was pretty simple at first. All of us sitting in chairs watching on as our minister gave a brief talk at the podium. She spoke of the power of commitment and the uplift of being dedicated to something higher. My mom and I observed as we sat next to each other. And then the minister asked us all to face our partners or spouses or relatives with whom we wanted to recommit at a deeper level.

The minister had us turn our chairs towards each other.

And that’s all it took.

All that was needed was that initial movement, that micro motion, to face towards each other. As we re-positioned our chairs to face head-on, the tears came forth.

My mother instantly started crying. And she said, “If you ever thought that we didn’t love you, that would break my heart.”

I recall saying, with tears streaming down my cheeks, “I didn’t know.”

In hindsight, I guess that’s how it is for all misunderstandings with loved ones, when we go into a bleak place, making up in our minds what is true for others, when the truth can actually be something wonderful, beautiful and beyond measure.

I walked away from that re-commitment ceremony so light, so free, so unburdened, so full of love, and with a newfound view of my mother, and a new take on a past that was dimmed previously with pain.

Such a joy. Such a journey without distance. Such a victory.

Ending with one more quote from A Course In Miracles:

Let us together, then, be glad to give some time to God today, and understand there is no better use for time than this.”

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James Anthony Ellis is an award-winning playwright, journalist and filmmaker, who is the author of eight books, including the men-focused “The Honor Book” available HERE.

4 thoughts on “Turning My Chair to Face My Mother”

  1. I really like how you illustrate the frailty of misunderstandings between loved ones, and how with intention, one can overcome.

  2. Beautiful and ultimately human gift you gave to yourself and your mother. I love that you write about difficult issues in a gentle and respectful manner.

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