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During a spring long in the past now, my mother was on her deathbed. One evening, I asked her if she was afraid to die. “No,” she replied, “I am going to see Hetty and God.” God was God, and Hetty was her twin sister and my godmother. Hetty had died a few years earlier.

by Rick van der Made - 29 March 2019

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Rigidity Will Not Bring Progress for the World

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In spite of the fact that she remained extremely Catholic until her death, my mother had, through different situations in her life-time (she was a retired nun who had to deal with a gay brother-in-law, three gay children, a Kurdish refugee as a son-in-law, and four immigrant grandchildren) learned to silently connect her image of God and the perception of her religion to all forms of diversity with which she came into contact within a rapidly changing society - and through her increasingly less fanatic-Catholic, but very post-modern family.

She maintained good contact with our very enlightened Father Ben Kortmann. He had married my parents, had baptised their children, and made all of their four children’s Holy Communion. It was Father Kortmann who had promised her on her deathbed that he would read mass for all of her children (gay or not) if they would ever get married.

People such as father Ben Kortmann and my mother had never, of course, any direct influence on the Vatican’s policies. But they did contribute to a change of policy in an individual church in Breda and perhaps to some extent to the diocese of Breda, making the Church somewhat more diverse and modern.

From her sickbed, my mother looked out of the window. “I see God most clearly in spring,” she said, “when life reasserts itself, and the sky turns from grey to blue.” I nodded. I had no idea whether I believed in God, but I did believe in spring. Sitting at my mother’s deathbed, I certainly wanted to believe I would see her again after her death.

“God is allowed to exist,” mother said, “but only in my head.” I thought it was beautifully put. My mother liked to talk about religion, but she never insisted, nor did she exclude or condemn people or was afraid of anything “alien” to her and the changes that took place around her.

Last winter, an occasional cold breeze hit the country from the Vatican, from Nashville, and from the Islamic University of Applied Sciences in Rotterdam. A cold breeze coming from windbags who are usually rigid, archaic, often slightly sour and bitter males who would prefer to turn back the clock some two thousand years.

However, with a steadily growing number of people such as my late mother, Father Ben, chairman Nas Belaraj of the Pink Marrakech Foundation, and the friendly elder of the Westerkerk, proudly flying the Rainbow flag when needed - they will never succeed.

Yes, spring is coming.

In the budding crocus and the white clouds drifting by in the blue sky, I sometimes see the face of my mother. Knowing her, she will probably be interfering with just about everything Our Lord must decide up there.

“My dear man, rigidity will not bring progress for the world down there,” I hear mother say. “Sticking to your principles will not get us anywhere.”

I imagine Him shaking His omnipotent head.

Whether or not you feel a higher power at play in this time of the year, I wish you all a pleasant spring, in which all the colors of the rainbow will flourish and come out of hiding from winter.

When the sky colors from grey to blue.



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