It's not true. The best things in life are not free.

First of all, do you know what the best things in life are? A big fast car? A lovely luxurious house? Enough money to lash out of designer clothes? We dream about things like these, especially when we read in the newspaper about the fantastic extravagance of the newly rich. If only I could have a little bit of that wealth, we think, I could buy everything I need and be happy for ever after.

Even as we dream those envious dreams we know the truth: - oodles of money will not, in itself, make us happy. Being genuinely poor makes people very unhappy, but being rich doesn't make them genuinely happy. Being rich only takes away our immediate wants and smoothes our path. But what do the rich do? They make more money and buy more things.

But the rich can't buy the best things of all. A friend. A lover. A mother.

There isn't space to talk about love and friendship now, so let's just think about mothers. It's Mother's Day on Sunday (or Mothering Sunday, the lovely old term traditionalists use). 'Being mothered' is about the most delicious phrase in the language - which is odd when you think that every one of us has a mother. You would think that as we all have a mother it wouldn't be that special. But it is.

All of us have a biological mother but not everyone has an emotional mother -someone who loves you in the unquestioning, passionate but non-sexual way a mother loves. And without that love you are immeasurably poor - no matter how much money you have.

The reason is simple - a mother convinces her child that he is special and wonderful no matter what he's like. He believes her. If no-one convinces him of that, he spends the rest of his life proving it.

You can't buy the conviction of being loved. It's the best thing in life. But it isn't free.

Being a mother comes with a cost. There are times - when you're called upstairs to hear the theme from Titanic on the saxophone yet again, when you have to exclaim at some amazing computer graphics featuring blood-and-guts yet again, when you're picking up the pieces of a broken heart or the dirty washing again - then you think "No-one could buy this!" And they can't. But happily, the best thing in life - being loved - is freely available, because none of us ever minded paying the price. That's how we are made - God (or nature, if you prefer) made us like that - we passionately want to give away the best thing in life, even though it costs and costs - in time and effort and attention and patience.

That puts money in its place, doesn't it? Can you buy a mother's love? And what mother would take money for loving? The best thing. It's free but it's costly.

The best


in life.


Mothering Sunday


A sermon preached by Imogen de la Bere