I believe what means one thing to one person may mean something else to another. While I have realized this before, I thought about it recently while volunteering for an Atlanta area non-profit. I had just started helping out with a program that distributes meals to people who live on the streets. After packing several donated sandwiches, Capri Suns, granola bars, and other treats in brown lunch bags, I noticed all the bags said, “Ma Loves You”. I immediately thought “Ma” referred to some omnipresent Mother who was there for everyone, including homeless men and women who perhaps no longer had mothers or no longer had contact with them. After packing the meals, the volunteer coordinator asked if some folks would take brown bags home to decorate them with the words “Ma Loves You”. I decided I would help with that too.
After I came home and reminded myself of the decorating that needed to be done, I started to really wonder what “Ma Loves You” meant. I thought of my mother who had just gone through a surgery to remove a tumor and who had been there for me for so many years and fed me a lifetime of lunches. I didn’t need a bag to remind me of that. The question was- who was “Ma” to the recipients of the bagged lunches? Did they think about “Ma” as they opened up their bagged lunches? If “Ma” loved them, would they be on the streets in the first place? While these are questions I don’t have answers to, I realized “Ma Loves You” could mean so many different things to various people. In this case, maybe it didn’t really matter what “Ma” meant. Perhaps all that matters was that someone was there to offer a free meal and to offer words like “love” in a complex and sometimes unjustifiable world.
After further pondering, I looked around the website of the non-profit where I volunteered and realized the founder and spiritual director was called “Ma Jaya Sati Bhagavati”. Ah ha! “Ma Loves You” made so much more sense now. All the same- I still believe “Ma”, whoever she is, could mean many different things to many different people.
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