UC Observer logo
UCObserver on SoundCloud UCObserver on YouTube UCObserver on Facebook UCObserver on Twitter UCObserver's RSS Feeds
Courtesy of David Bartus/Pexels

Dear Mother of Judas

‘What words from your shattered heart would you share with us?’

By Carolyn Pogue

Dear Mother of Judas,

I know you walk among us, still. You, the mother of the turncoat, criminal, suicide. Your son's name is used as a metaphor for "wicked." How did it turn out this way? You must have asked that question a million times.

I see you in the haunted eyes of mothers and fathers who have buried their children, visited them in prison or detention centres or psychiatric wards. I remember you particularly during Lent, when we walk this winding path. I always walk these long, dark days with Mary and with you. I wonder, dear Mother of Judas, did you ever sit and have tea with Mary afterwards? Did you hold one another in the unspeakable deaths of your children? Did the other women gather around both of you — or just around Mary? Did you even allow them to offer you comfort?

I see other parents, too. On the news, sometimes, a parent stands in front of a microphone and tells the world that “no, the murderer of my child or my grandchild should not go free when I live in a prison of sorrow and my beloved lies underground. No fair. No fair!"

But rarely do we see the parents or families of murderers, rapists or pedophiles. That privacy is honoured, at least. I am glad that we allow them time to try to stitch new lives together from the broken, tangled threads that they have been left with. I do sometimes wonder about them, though. I occasionally send a prayer out for them that they do not feel alone. Being sad and being alone can be such a harsh combination.

I teach creative writing at Calgary’s Alexandra Writers' Centre periodically. That is where I met Eleanor Cowan, the author of A History of the Pedophile's Wife: Memoir of a Canadian Teacher and Writer. The title of the book, itself, took my breath away. Such courage.

The book goes a long way toward helping readers understand how women are drawn into relationships with men who are so sick that they would rape a child. It can help us to better understand what a pedophile might look for in a wife. Cowan leads the reader through her early life in a compelling way; I barely closed the book. Interestingly, she and I are the same age, and as she chronicles her childhood, early marriage and motherhood, she notes the books that she read at the time of an event. Naming the literature created a bridge between us. For example, I would think, “Yes!” I read Margaret Laurence at exactly that age too, and Laurence helped me to see women's lives differently.

Dear Mother of Judas, I know that you have seen it all and heard it all. What is new under the sun, after all? I wonder what book you would write about being in the family of your son who became so reviled? What words from your shattered heart would you share with us to help us to stand bravely with you?

Sending you gentleness this day,


This is the fifth in Carolyn Pogue’s “Letter to a Spiritual Ancestor” series.

Author's photo
Carolyn Pogue is a Calgary author and longtime Observer contributor. New posts of The Pogue Blog will appear on the first and third Thursday of the month. For more information on Carolyn Pogue, visit www.carolynpogue.ca..
Readers’ advisory: The discussion below is moderated by The UC Observer and facilitated by Intense Debate (ID), an online commentary system. The Observer reserves the right to edit or reject any comment it deems to be inappropriate. Approved comments may be further edited for length, clarity and accuracy, and published in the print edition of the magazine. Please note: readers do not need to sign up with ID to post their comments on ucobserver.org. We require only your user name and e-mail address. Your comments will be posted from Monday to Friday between 9:30 a.m. and 5:30 p.m. Join the discussion today!
Promotional Image


David Wilson%


by David Wilson

If statues could talk

Promotional Image


ObserverDocs: Stolen Mother

by Observer Staff

The daughter and adoptive mother of one of the Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women share their story

Promotional Image


July 2017

From far and wide

by Various Writers

Meet 11 immigrants who are putting down new roots


June 2017

A suitcase for Cuba

by Christopher Levan

You’ll find more than giveaway toiletries and hand-me-downs in the writer's luggage. Each carefully chosen gift offers a glimpse into the lives of Cubans today.


June 2017


by Kristy Woudstra

Up to half a million people are living in Canada without official status. The ‘sanctuary city’ movement is growing, but the fear of deportation persists.


June 2017

Resisting genocide

by Sally Armstrong

In August 2014, ISIS attacked Iraq’s Yazidis, slaughtering thousands and forcing women and girls into sexual slavery. Today, the survivors are fighting for their ancient way of life.


April 2017

Dear Grandkids

by Various Writers

Six acclaimed Canadian authors write letters from the heart


March 2017

Called to resist

by Paul Wilson

Liberal Christians in the United States test their faith against a demagogue

Promotional Image