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Offer it Up
It was a catch phrase of my mother’s. Whether our sweater was itchy, or our new church shoes gave us blisters, or a sibling was teasing us, Mom’s standard reply was Offer it Up. As a young person, this response was unsatisfying. It didn’t fix anything, and it felt dismissive. More often than not, I wanted her other catch phrase, which similarly didn’t fix anything. But at least Oh Honey came bearing sympathy.
This was before Mom got involved in Al-Anon where she learned about the Serenity Prayer and to Let Go and Let God. In many ways those adages offer the same comfort, or challenge depending on one’s state of grace, and were simply another way of saying Offer it Up.
I like Mom’s version better. I often hear Mom’s voice nudging me to rise above and connect with a higher spirit, even without itchy sweaters or ill-fitting white patent leather shoes. When I am on a hike, her words are as pertinent while I battle a swarm of mosquitoes on the way up as when I finally glory in a spectacular view from the top. Then, on the way down, when my knees ache and I grow frustrated at my 56-year old body for sometimes just sucking, I again remember Mom’s words (and pop a couple ibuprofen).
Offer it Up doesn’t just mean to “get over it.” Rather, it acknowledges our current state of discomfort, pain, or joy, and reminds us to share it all. Offer it up keeps us humble and centered as we ride the waves of emotions that come with our humanity.
Similarly, Offer it Up does not absolve us of action; it does not tell us to sit idly and suffer silently. It is just a step, a breath, a moment, a prayer.
Tracy L. Wood is a former Marine and retired secondary English teacher. She currently teaches writing workshop classes near her home in Newbury, New Hampshire where she writes a weekly newsletter “My Mother’s Piano: from stuff to stories.”
Tracy’s mother’s piano is one of the many things that did not move with Tracy and her husband when they fled their suburban home near Boston, where they raised their family to ride out the pandemic in rural New Hampshire. It has come to represent the things we cherish but cannot keep.