I miss you, and I miss this smile


A reflection for Mother’s Day

A few days ago, I discovered both my parents mentioned on the internet: Nabila, a young lady that majored in Geodesy – the field my father taught, writes on her blog about the “Queen of the night” (Epiphyllum oxypetalum) that started to blossom and adds:

I remember something I read from a book by Helmut Moritz, Science, Religion and Tolerance:
My wife was a botanist. When were walking and she saw a particularly beautiful flower, she used to say with a smile: “Alles Zufall?” (All this is pure chance?).

Source: The Queen of the Night in Full Bloom


Yes, this smile was very characteristic. When I visited her in October 2002, a few days prior to her leaving this world (very unexpected I must say), she smiled like saying: “I am happy you made it here!” – Austria is small, the travel is just 250 km…, anyway! This smile will stay with me as long as I live.

Mother’s Day is approaching fast. When I lost my mother, I knew, my childhood is definitively over. Part of it is gone. That is tough for anyone, independently of the age when this happens to you.
Mother’s Day then is a day for being grateful for what she lived and tried to give to me, in particular:

  1. Passion for biology and nature. My mother knew every plant, every tree, by Latin and German name, and family. As a child I found this pretty boring, but when I was thirteen or fourteen, I got it! We spent long time together collecting and and classifying plants. And I asked non-stop … When I started my College education, my colleagues asked me: “Why do you know this belongs to the (… let’s say) Scrophulariaceae”? I said: “I don’t know, I just see that.” – Year-long, patient training  by my mom.
  2.  Faith informed by study and impregnated by prayer. My mother started the endeavor of faith alone, my father was an agnostic at the time they married and found to the Catholic faith later in his life. Therefore, my mother was the first to educate us in the faith. She was our family expert on theological questions [1] and a role model on living a prayer and sacramental life in the middle of her everyday tasks and occupations.
  3. Her attitudes: Be positive. Learning is a life-long task.  Smile even if life may be rough. – She never gave me these advices in words. But in deeds, yes. I am working on putting them in practice. Work in progress.



Our Lady of Mariazell

I have another mother that is also smiling at me like a good mother does. But she is only smiling if I need this. Most often she is looking at me telling me that I should look at her Son, or she has a sad look, or a contemplative one. When Saint Teresa de Avila was loosing her mother at young age, she went to a image of Our Lady and told her: “Now, you need to take care of me like my mother”. [2]

Maybe, it is more than a conicidence that we celebrate Mother’s Day in May, the month that we dedicate to Our Lady?

This statue is Our Lady of Mariazell in Styria, Austria. She usually wears robes (beautifully crafted). Very few pictures exist of the statue from the middle ages in which Mary looks at us and tells us: “go to Him!” In the reverse, we can go to her and ask her: “Show us Jesus!” – This was the motto of the visit of Pope Benedict XVI to Austria in 2007 and is taken from the final words of Deus Caritas est.

Holy Mary, Mother of God,
you have given the world its true light,
Jesus, your Son – the Son of God.
You abandoned yourself completely
to God’s call
and thus became a wellspring
of the goodness which flows forth from him.
Show us Jesus. Lead us to him.
Teach us to know and love him,
so that we too can become
capable of true love
and be fountains of living water
in the midst of a thirsting world.

May she be our consolation in times when we miss our beloved parents or family members, leading us to her Son – and through Him to heaven.


[1] In the foreward to his book  Science, Mind and the Universe  – An Introduction to Natural Philosophy, my father wrote the following: “Last but not least, my wife Gerlinde read various versions of the manuscript and was my adviser in questions of biology and theology, besides confirming that the book can be read also without mathematics.”

[2] The story more literally: Saint Teresa of Avila Virgin, Foundress—1515-1582 A.D. – Feast: October 15


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