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Monday, April 2, 2012

Holy Week Through a Mother's Eyes

by Betsy Perry

I was in court recently but not for something as mundane as appealing a speeding ticket.  There were over a hundred of us gathered in Court Room Four to be with Molly’s mother and family.  I did not know Molly, but Molly’s mother, Margaret, is a friend.  Molly was murdered in cold blood in a rural town in New Hampshire.  That day in court was the sentencing hearing for the murderer (who pled guilty to a plea bargain of second degree murder) when family and friends could speak about Molly and their loss. 

I knew it was going to be a grievously sad afternoon, but I did not imagine I would have a taste of such agony laced with the most delicate strands of hope and love.  As I listened to Molly’s Dad, her Aunt Elizabeth, her sisters Ruby and Sadie, and her Mother Margaret, I was transfixed to Good Friday at the foot of the Cross.  Why does one who is so beloved and so innocent needlessly have to die?   How could we have prevented this?  How do Molly’s husband, mother, dad, aunt, sisters, and friends go on? 

It was Margaret’s words arising from a heart so strong, so full, so clear, and so open that transfixed me.  Margaret’s passionate and eloquent statement transformed everyone there including the judge, and, I suspect, the murderer in some way that may or may not ever be manifested.  Before hearing Margaret, I had never thought about what it might be like for Mary, Jesus’ mother, at the foot of the cross.  Margaret took me there as if the women at the foot of the cross were bidding us all to know that love can transcend the very worst of human action.  Somehow, love still breaks through in the pain and grief of losing a daughter.
Margaret is a Quaker and the meeting society had written a “minute” for peace which is like a call to remember and take action for peace.  We were all invited to sign it in Molly’s honor.  The judge clearly moved by the family’s testimony to Molly’s life said at the end, “I haven’t even looked into the ethical implications of this, but I want to sign the peace “minute.”  Margaret turned to Molly’s husband, with a smile that I can’t even describe—a mixture of surprise, hope, love, and so much more. 

It’s been hard this past week, I’m sure, for Molly’s family, her friends, her community, and even those of us who did not know her personally.   So where does the murder of one so innocent leave us?  Dare I just forget because it didn’t happen to my daughter?  NEVER!  I want to enter into Holy Week with the eyes and heart of a mother, one who feels the pain and sorrow and knows at the same time that God is suffering with us, crying out for our hardened hearts to turn towards love, inviting us to clear room for a glimmer of redemption, forgiveness, and resurrection.  That’s what Margaret has done.  That’s what the women at the foot of the cross did.  Am I brave enough to do the same?


  1. No one can express what this other-worldly- courage to forgive feels like unless they have experienced the unforgiveable. This is at the heart of why we choose grace and choose Christ. This is the perfect story for "Holy Week;" it is a distillation of all that Christ came to do on our sinful planet! Thanks for sharing it!

  2. As a mother myself it seems like it would be impossible to go on after something like this. However, in situations like this it is an opportunity for us to remember that everything happens for good. No tragedy is without divine purpose. A friend of mine was on the phone with his daughter as her boyfriend murdered her. The phone was hung up as her life ended. He is now a spokesperson carrying the message about domestic violence. He made a statement once that changed the way I view the unthinkable circumstances that sometimes present themselves. He said that this event "broke his heart... open" Sometimes the messages we receive and lessons that we learn seem unbearable. It is in these times that we need to remember that "It's all God!"

    Thank you for sharing this.
    Blessings, Sherry