The Blessings and Joys of Spiritual Motherhood

Forever Connected: Guiding and Inspiring Faith in a Spiritual Daughter

‘Mother and Child’
‘Mother and Child’ (photo: Chuanpis / Shutterstock)

We met in the hospital when she was a newborn, and I brought homemade cookies for her mother. The baby was tiny and sweet and named Sarah Evangeline.

This was our first official meeting, but I’d been aware of her existence for a while. Her mother, Pam, was pregnant when I first met her in our church choir. One day, she told me about a medical problem that could threaten the baby.

My late husband, Jef, and I were volunteering with the Missionaries of Charity, who gave us a medal blessed by Mother Teresa to give to my friend. The sisters promised their prayers, and we added ours to the fervent petitions rising skyward each day.

The pregnancy proceeded smoothly, and the baby was born in shining health. A few months later, Pam asked us to become her godparents. The photo on my dresser shows Pam and her husband, Chris, along with Jef and myself, standing before the altar. The baby is decked out in a lovely, white baptismal dress and is gazing intently into her mother’s eyes.

We promised to be Christian role models for this child and help her parents raise her in the faith. The priest handed parents and godparents brightly lit candles representing the Risen Jesus, who is the Light of the World. He said, “Parents and godparents, this light is entrusted to you to be kept burning brightly. This child of yours has been enlightened by Christ. She is to walk always as a child of the light.

I’m deeply grateful that God sent this child into my life. Although I have no biological children, she is my spiritual daughter, connected to me with an everlasting bond.

She became a joyful note gracing the lives of her godparents, who dearly loved her and her big brother, Stephen. He came over to watch movies with Uncle Jef, while Sarah helped Aunt Lorraine — or as she put it, “Awaine” — bake cookies.

She was too little to reach the kitchen counter, and I was nervous about her standing on a chair, so I put a cutting board on the floor. She sat beside it and mixed the batter with a wooden spoon, while pilfering the occasional chocolate chip. When her brother and Uncle Jef sampled the cookies, she announced, “I made them — and Aunt Awaine helped.”

To celebrate the day of her baptism each year, I invited Sarah over for teddy-bear tea parties and other festive events. My little herd of stuffed animals came to life when she was around. As she invented stories featuring the turtle, moose and chicken, and my prized Pluto dog from childhood, the gang would gallop around the room, shouting and singing.

On Sundays we created a tradition after Mass of walking around the sanctuary together and looking at the stained-glass windows. She listened as I explained the stories, and when we studied the image of Jesus on the cross, she told me solemnly, “The bad guys did it.”

There were tough times along the years, especially when a cancer diagnosis shook me to the core. When I told Pam, she rushed over with Sarah, who was then 3, and as Pam gave me a gigantic hug, the little girl wrapped her arms around my knees.

On Mother’s Day, she presented me with a box of chocolates and watched carefully as I opened it, before asking, “Can I have one?” And when we crossed the streets, she took my hand as naturally as if I had been her real mom.

Almost overnight, it seems, Sarah was tall enough to stand beside me in the kitchen and measure flour and sugar — and then she outgrew me. She went to high school and then college, and turned 21, as the calendar pages flipped wildly forward.

Today, we went downstairs to admire her godfather’s artwork on the walls. When I confessed that some days I can’t believe he’s gone, she embraced me and whispered, “I love you.” 

I pray for this sweet girl every day and rejoice that we are eternally connected through the love and grace of Jesus Christ. May the light of Christ continue to shine in her heart, and may the Lord always bless my spiritual daughter, who changed my life forever.