Mothers: The Watchers

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We learned about leil shimurim in Sunday school today. In Hebrew, this is the night of the watches and refers to Passover night or the night of the Exodus. Our teacher referred to the watching and waiting of the Israelites during the final plague—hearing the cries of affected households and waiting to see how the Lord deals with all.

…and there was loud wailing in Egypt, for there was not a house without someone dead (Exodus 12: 30)
But also, he spoke of how, during the night of the Exodus, the Lord was watching over the people and led them.
By day the LORD went ahead of them in a pillar of cloud to guide them on their way and by night in a pillar of fire to give them light, so that they could travel by day or night.  Neither the pillar of cloud by day nor the pillar of fire by night left its place in front of the people. (Exodus 13:21-22)
Our teacher drew the parallel between the watching on the night of Passover and Jesus’ words to his disciples in the Garden of Gethsemane.
He took Peter and the two sons of Zebedee along with him, and he began to be sorrowful and troubled. Then he said to them, “My soul is overwhelmed with sorrow to the point of death. Stay here and keep watch with me.” (Matt. 26:37-38)
On the Hebrew for Christians website, I found this interesting quote:
According to midrash, the phrase leil shimurim literally means  “night of the watches” (shimurim is in the plural) which appears twice in this verse [Exodus 12:41], and therefore it refers not only to the original redemption in Egypt (i.e., the Passover), but also to the time of future redemption by the Messiah (Shemot Rabbah 18). This explains why this night is guarded for all generations. The Babylonian Talmud (Tractate Rosh Hashanah 11a) further states: “In Nisan our forefathers were redeemed from Egypt, and in Nisan we will be redeemed.” In that sense, Nisan is called Chodesh ha-Yeshuah (חדֶשׁ הַיְשׁוּעָה), the  “month of the salvation,” both in terms of the physical deliverance from Egypt, but more profoundly in terms of the spiritual salvation given through the Messiah Yeshua, who was crucified as the “Lamb of God” precisely during this time…
We are a watching people.
In church today, the men in our congregation shared stories about their mothers–and other women who influenced their faith. Such stories that settle deep in roots and nourish from hidden places. I saw it happen—how the telling brought this mystery to light. I remembered how my mother taught me to pray. I wrote a note to myself in the margin of my church bulletin.
Call your mother.
This afternoon, I spent some time in the flowers–cutting back the spent lilac blossoms, pulling up the weeds. My boys played badminton nearby–their shouts of triumph and cries of injustice my background music. I sat in the shade of my lilac, breathed in the fading scent of love and watched them for a while.
It occurred to me that women live in the season of shimurim. Aren’t we always watching? There are good men who pass on their faith but isn’t it the women who plant those seeds deep in the hearts of the lives they tend? Isn’t it our hands that smooth out all the wrinkles, answer the hard questions, keep them in the corner of our eye at all times?
When I call my mom, we pretend it’s not Mother’s Day.
And it is so good to talk to her. 

Sharing with Michelle today:


  1. says

    Sometimes watching is the hardest work. And, yes, lilacs really are the scent of love, arent’ they? Think I’ll go bury my face in mine now and breathe them in while I can. Glad you called your momma. Love you.

  2. says

    I sat in the shade of my lilac, breathed in the fading scent of love and watched them for a while…..what a beautiful thought. I can just imagine it 🙂

  3. says

    Nice one, Laura!
    I grew up with several big lilac bushes in our yard. They are my favorite scent. Perfume for the soul!
    Mom used to cut big bouquets for the house, so the scent reminds me of her – indeed the scent of love!
    May God surround you with lilac perfume and love.

  4. says

    I was completely entranced reading this post, Laura — I feel like I learned so much. And then when I got to that line — “We are a watching people” — I thought to myself, “yes.” And when I stop watching, when I get lazy about keeping my eyes open and counting gifts and looking for Him, I complain that I don’t see Him. For me, faith is so connected to the watching, the keeping my eyes open.

    I forget your religious background sometimes, Laura — so at first I was mystified as to why you avoided Mother’s Day talk — but then I remembered. You are a beautiful daughter, Laura — I am so blessed to ‘know’ you.

  5. says

    Always in a posture of watchfulness, at least we should be. In these last few months, my eyes have been less focused… at least as it pertains to my mothering. But as my oldest prepares for his college-walk across the stage this Saturday, I find my gaze laser-on… afraid that I might miss a most glorious moment of mothering.

    I’ve had some good conversations with my older two sons in recent days. Necessary conversations. Hard conversations. Heart conversations. We’ve done some weeping, some praying, and a whole lot of hoping for the bend in the road that’s just about to makes its entrance.

    Still trying to watch them, sister. I suppose a part of me always will.


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