St. Sarah Smith

In C.S. Lewis’s The Great Divorce he shows us his vision of the afterlife. In his allegory, Lewis travels from hell up into heaven and describes his encounters there. He sees a woman of “unbearable beauty” accompanied by a whole host of admirers. He wonders if she may be Mary, the Mother of Jesus, since she is evidently a person of tremendous significance. His guide corrects him,

“It’s someone you’ve never have heard of. Her name on earth was Sarah Smith and she lived at Golden Green.”

“She seems to be…well, a person of particular importance?”

“Aye.   She is one of the great ones.  Ye have heard that fame in this country and fame on earth are two quite different things.”

“…And who are all these young men and women on each side?”

“They are her sons and daughters.”

“She must have had a very large family, Sir?”

“Every young man or boy that met her became her son – even if it was only the boy that brought the meat to her back door.  Every girl that met her was her daughter.”

“Isn’t that a bit hard on their own parents?”

“No, There are those that steal other people’s children. But her motherhood was of a different kind. Those on whom it fell went back to their natural parents loving them more.”

A Mother and Child, Peter Vilhelm

Sarah Smith was most certainly viewed as a woman of little importance during her life on earth. Yet we see that her influence far exceeded her fame on earth. We are not told if she had her own children, but she was a mother. She opened her door and heart children. Children are now so often ignored or misused by our culture, so often they are victims of others’ selfishness or vice. Yet the mothering of Sarah Smith lifted them.

As Lewis’ guide reminds us, small things lift us to great things – the love of a mother can repair our world.

“It is like when you throw a stone into a pool, and the concentric waves spread out further and further. Who knows where it will end? Redeemed humanity is still young, it has hardly come to its full strength. But already there is joy enough in the little finger of a great saint such as yonder lady to waken all the dead things of the universe into life.”

Our calling to love and care for the world’s children is more precious and crucial than we will ever realize in this life. A life devoted to others, particularly children, is not easy. Yet I trust in this dream of Lewis’. We mothers are doing God’s work on earth.

Happy Mother’s Day.

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