My Mother: A Radiance of Light, Love and Life

My Mother: A Radiance of Light, Love and Life
My dear, sweet mother died this last autumn. She used to attend all my meetings and retreats in England and Europe and was very much a part of our community.

As many of you have heard me say before, she would often remind me that, as a seven-year-old boy, I once said to her that I thought that this world is God’s dream, and that our job was to make it as pleasant a dream as possible. What she didn’t know, of course, was that I inherited this view of reality from her.

Thirty years later, when Francis Lucille asked me how I had come by my great love of truth, or God, I replied that my mother had introduced me to the non-dual understanding in my mid-teens, not just by introducing me to Colet House where I first heard about it and went on to study and practise for many years, but, more importantly, through the way she thought and lived. Francis paused for a while and replied, ‘How beautiful, the mother handing her son back to God.’

When I recounted this to my mother, she laughed, ‘But darling, when I attend your meetings and retreats, I always feel that it’s you that’s handing me back to God.’ Suffice to say that we both considered each other a gift from God, and both considered that we had delivered one another back to God’s presence.

I visited her a few days before she passed, and, by this stage, she was no longer recognising anyone. Although she was talking a little and could still understand, she had no idea who I was. Several months earlier, my eldest niece, Rebecca, had been to see her. She went into the room and said, ‘Hi, Grally.* Do you know who I am?’ ‘No, darling, but don’t tell me. I want to see if I can remember,’ my mother responded. After a while, Becca said to her, ‘Shall I give you a hint?’ And my mother replied, ‘No, not yet.’ Then, a little later, ‘I don’t know who you are, but I know that I love you.’

And that is how I felt when I last saw my mother. She didn’t know who I was, but I didn’t mind in the least because we both knew the depth of our love for one another. And that was really all that mattered. I didn’t mind that she no longer knew who I was, because in loving me in those last moments, she did, of course, know who I really am.

So, I spent that day with her, mostly in silence. But before I left, I asked her two questions: ‘Mum, are you at peace?’ And she just whispered back very quietly, ‘Yes, darling, I’m at peace.’ Then, ‘Mum, are you afraid of dying?’ At this point, although she was almost completely blind, she opened her eyes and a faint smile came across her face. ‘Darling, what on earth is there to be afraid of?’

We sat in silence for a while. Then I told her that I was going to the United States in a couple of weeks. We had had this conversation many times before, but I sensed that this time it was different, so I added that if she were to slip away, I wouldn’t be able to come back. She replied, ‘Darling, I understand. There’s no need to come back.’

I kissed her on the forehead, ‘God bless, sweetheart,’ I whispered. ‘God bless, my beloved,’ she replied, very quietly. And I left. It couldn’t have been sweeter or simpler.

We had told each other so many times over the last year how much we loved each other and how grateful we were to each other. I thanked her one more time and said, ‘I’ll hold you in my heart forever.’ And she replied, ‘Sweetheart, I’ll hold you in my heart forever.’ And I left. 

*  *  *

For as long as I knew her, my mother had a prayer, the text of which she always kept in an oval frame by her bed. It’s a prayer that I’ve recited to myself most days of my adult life. It’s called the ‘Prayer of the Chalice’:

Father, to thee I raise my whole being,
a vessel, emptied of self.
Accept Lord, this my emptiness,
and so fill me with Thyself,
Thy Light, Thy Love, Thy Life,
that these, Thy precious Gifts, may radiate through me
and overflow the chalice of my heart
into the hearts of all with whom I come in contact this day,
revealing unto them the beauty of Thy Joy and Wholeness
and the Serenity of Thy Peace
which nothing can destroy.


If there was ever anyone who radiated light, love and life to everyone that she came across, it was my mother.

A couple of months earlier, when she was not yet confined to bed, I was driving her to the local café where I used to take her for lunch every two weeks when I would visit her. As we were driving, she said, ‘More and more, I feel that whatever I am experiencing, I am simply present.’

She had been studying and practising the non-dual understanding for well over sixty years, and we’d had innumerable conversations about it over the years. And now, here in the car on the way to the café, she had distilled sixty years of understanding into this innocent phrase: ‘Whatever I am experiencing, I am.’

She said it so simply and clearly, and with such conviction. I could see that being was outshining the content of her experience.

She was expressing the highest form of meditation or prayer – everything shining with the radiance of being. God’s presence outshining everything. All experience becoming progressively transparent to the light of being, to God’s presence, until in the end there is only that.

It’s what Meister Eckhart meant when he said: ‘When you come to the One that gathers all things up into itself, there you must stay.’

Whatever we are experiencing, we are. Whatever I am experiencing, I am. What is this ‘I am’ that pervades and underlies all experience? What is the ‘I am’ before it is coloured or qualified by experience? Infinite being, God’s being.

If I look for my mother now, I find her in my heart as the shining of being.


*‘Grally’ is an affectionate name by which the family addressed Rupert’s mother.


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