The Power of a Mother’s Prayer

             Juzu

 

The Power of a Mother’s Prayer
 
This past weekend, I stayed in our childhood home, my mother’s home of 60 years after finishing numerous business meetings in Portland. I love coming home. There are so many memories, scents and sounds that reflect both a joyous and yet tough childhood. It’s hard to believe that all seven of us children fit in such a tiny home. I remember at one point, five of us packed in to one bedroom that now seems barely able to comfortably house one person. We made do. We survived challenging economic times, my older sister perishing from leukemia, my father stricken by a ravaging brain tumor crippling an otherwise strong and healthy man and my younger sister being stricken not one but twice from bone marrow cancer. There were many mean lean Christmases and months were all of my siblings and I had to work and go to school but somehow we survived.
 
I recollect with such joy the sounds our oldest sister pounding out powerful masterpieces from an old upright piano and yet other times softly playing beautiful sonatas to mellow the pain of struggle. Our home was always filled with music whether piano, violins, violas, cellos or voice—music drowned out the suffering of disparate treatment, inadequate medical care, the lack of heat and sometimes no food. There was always lots of energy with the melodies of childhood voices emanating from my remaining six brothers and sisters whether it was preparing for athletic competitions, honors academics or discussing the perplexing behavior of humans who chose to identify us by the color of our skin rather than the content of our character. There was not much our beautiful mother could do about injustice in our community but she was confident that her love manifested through prayer gave us a fighting chance in childhood.
 
The one memory I recall so vividly was daily hearing my mother singing her prayers. Just through recollection I can smell the scent of Japanese incense that filled the air as she chanted sometimes up to three hours a day a complex series of prayers framed around the Lotus Sutra. When you are a young child you take such devotion for granted. My Okaasan (mother) used to tell us “I pray for your today” when we were facing a tough Chemistry exam or awaiting admission in to a prestigious college. I recollect there were times my mother’s prayers sounded more like deep pleading especially when my Merchant Marine Captain Father did not send his paycheck home. My mother could not adequately plan or care for her children when so many things were unpredictable. My father’s alcoholism tormented his compassionate soul when he faced the poverty he encountered traveling nearly every continent on our planet. Having a compassionate parent can be a two edged sword especially when you are a young child not fully understanding the demons that preoccupy your father’s inter-generational trauma. I remember sitting at the edge of my mother’s bed watching her as she prayed. I did not understand how completely she believed that her discipline would indeed be heard and answered but somehow many of her prayers were answered  and we survived. My mother was and is a prayer warrior.
 
I understand now the power and gift of prayer, especially from a mother’s heart. I will never ever underestimate the power of prayer. I will never ever underestimate the resilience of a mothers love especially articulated in the mysterious and beautiful language of prayer. My siblings and I have survived many life challenges that most would cower because we knew that our mother was praying for us.
This weekend I woke up to the scents and sounds of my childhood. I laid in bed smiling waking up to peaceful memories. I am now praying for my mother who at ninety worries that time is running out on her petitions to God. I stood by my mother’s bedroom doorway as I observed her well-worn prayer books and prayer beads (juzu) I observed the same focus and diligence of the mother of my youth. My eyes filled with tears because I finally comprehended why my mother prayed so much and so often for her children and for me—especially. Like my father, I am bothered by the injustices of the world but unlike my father I was able to break free from the inter-generational elixirs that mask our historic wounds. I am so grateful that daily my mother prays for my three sons, her eleven grandchildren and five great grandchildren and future generations to come. I am thankful for her belief in the power of prayer. Prayer is a gift that should never be underestimated.
 
My precious sweet mother who never had the opportunity to pursue college or a professional career is my greatest mentor and role model. I pray for my three sons now daily, without ceasing in a different language and with various melodies—but with the same dedication. My mother also taught me to pray for others, the ones who do not deserve prayer. The ones who persecute or challenge the less fortunate and most especially the ones who take advantage of a privileged life. When I see the challenges and suffering occurring on the Reservations, economic ghettos and politically created barrios—I too pray with out ceasing Sometimes my prayers come through service because I believe prayer can evolve through heartfelt action. I unceasingly pray without mention because I have witnessed the results of genuine earnest prayer. I am thankful for the influence my mother has had on my life. I am deeply grateful for my mother’s steadfast earnest prayers. I am a grateful recipient of the power of a Mother’s loving prayer.
May you be blessed equally so!
Elizabeth Asahi Rising Sun Sato #risetoexcellence
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