The Original Mother’s Day

I wrote this post a few years ago and it is still one of my favorites. Happy Mother’s Day to all women who embrace the peace-making power of their womanhood!

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Something amazing and inspiring was brought to my attention yesterday. I wanted to write about it today though to remind myself that Mother’s Day started out not just as a day for flowers and kissy face emoticons but as a response to war…a call to protest and proclamation. I didn’t know that! It’s troubling to me that Mother’s Day has been diminuated until all that remains is the sentimentality and a big hug for mom. We have lost touch with the roots of this celebration. Today there is a dialogue regarding the “war on women,” there is controversy surrounding contraception, there remains blatant wage inequality as well as the insidious ideological gender inequalities that reverberate in everyday conversations, and there is ongoing use of sexual malfeasances (to put it gently) that are still being used internationally as wartime strategies. I think now is a perfect age to restore some of the original tenants of Mother’s Day…

In 1870 Julia Ward Howe wrote the Mother’s Day Proclamation to call for the gathering of women together “without limit of nationality” in order to seek counsel from one another regarding the loss of sons and husbands in wars and to proclaim that, “From the bosum of a devastated Earth a voice goes up with our own. It says: ‘Disarm! Disarm! The sword of murder is not the balance of justice.'”

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As well-intentioned as we all are on Mother’s Day, our Hallmark-frenzied tradition in America is a far paler expression of honor than was conceptualized by the foremothers of this holiday. I would like to see my mother, grandmothers, step-mothers, sister, cousins, friends, and aunts and alllll the other wise women out there to all get something different for Mother’s Day next year. For Mother’s Day 2013, I want them to “leave all that may be left at home,” come together to counsel with one another about human rights, war, family, and future of this this country and this world.

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Then once they’ve come to an agreement about “the promotion of the alliance of the different nationalities, the amicable settlement of international questions, and the great and general interests of peace” I want the rest of the world to sit and listen with the attentive ears of an child which, after all, we all are. I don’t know… for some reason I feel like this “congress of women” might be more productive than the one we have now. You?

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Here is the inspirational full story (borrowed from a reading I heard on Sunday) including Ms. Howe’s proclamation:

The first person to fight for an official Mother’s Day celebration in the United States was Julia Ward Howe. You may be more familiar with her name as the writer who wrote the words to the Civil War song, The Battle Hymn of the Republic.

Howe was born in New York City on May 27, 1819. Her family was well respected and wealthy. She was a published poet and abolitionist. She and her husband, Samuel Gridley Howe, co-published the anti-slavery newspaper The Commonwealth. She was active in the peace movement and the women’s suffrage movement. In 1870 she penned the Mother’s Day Proclamation. In 1872 the Mothers’ Peace Day Observance on the second Sunday in June was held and the meetings continued for several years. Her idea was widely accepted, but she was never able to get the day recognized as an official holiday. The Mothers’ Peace Day was the beginning of the Mothers’ Day holiday in the United States now celebrated in May.

The modern commercialized celebration of gifts, flowers and candy bears little resemblance to Howe’s original idea. Here is the Proclamation that explains, in her own powerful words, the goals of the original Mother’s Day in the United States…

Arise then…women of this day!
Arise, all women who have hearts!
Whether your baptism be of water or of tears!
Say firmly:
“We will not have questions answered by irrelevant agencies,
Our husbands will not come to us, reeking with carnage,
For caresses and applause.
Our sons shall not be taken from us to unlearn
All that we have been able to teach them of charity, mercy and patience.
We, the women of one country,
Will be too tender of those of another country
To allow our sons to be trained to injure theirs.”

From the bosum of a devastated Earth a voice goes up with
Our own. It says: “Disarm! Disarm!
The sword of murder is not the balance of justice.”
Blood does not wipe our dishonor,
Nor violence indicate possession.
As men have often forsaken the plough and the anvil at the summons of war,
Let women now leave all that may be left of home
For a great and earnest day of counsel.
Let them meet first, as women, to bewail and commemorate the dead.
Let them solemnly take counsel with each other as to the means
Whereby the great human family can live in peace…
Each bearing after his own time the sacred impress, not of Caesar,
But of God –
In the name of womanhood and humanity, I earnestly ask
That a general congress of women without limit of nationality,
May be appointed and held at someplace deemed most convenient
And the earliest period consistent with its objects,
To promote the alliance of the different nationalities,
The amicable settlement of international questions,
The great and general interests of peace.

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No Haste, No Waste

Waiting by TfaseeL

Waiting by TfaseeL

As we are developing, realizing our dreams and pursuing them, there can be times of deep yearning in the midst of seemingly snail-paced progress. Sometimes it is so easy to want MORE. NOW.

Someone told me once that if I were to have now everything that God had in store my head would probably explode. I think that might be true! “God only gives you what you can handle” is a quaint phrase of comfort but there is truth to that. Growth with the divine is step by step, just like every other growth that comes to mind. I think of it like a Rule of Readiness. This can feel unbearable to me at times, those times when I let me brain get all tied up into the knot of HOW and WHEN some new growth is going to happen.

It’s true that sometimes a person will have a sudden experience of growth that propels them quickly into a greater awareness, but even that is subject to the Rule of Readiness. Saul was ready to become Paul, if you will.

What then is the benefit of trying to hasten your own growth? Is there a benefit? As moments—what IS—drift past, what good does it do to have your attention on what could be? Let’s be where we are. Let’s enjoy where we are as much as we can knowing that as long as we remain available our growth is taking place.

I choose not to hasten what is developing at its own pace lest I allow the real moments of my life to be wasted. 

No Haste, No Waste

Month 1: Loving My Body!!!

My list of intentions

My list of intentions

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Okay, I promise not to send a daily update, but I do want to write briefly about the kick-off to the HERE I AM! experience that we’ve just started. Last night I spent the evening with my sister and brother-in-law, sitting by a fire and writing out our intentions for the month-by-month, change-welcoming, gratitude-buliding, growth-sparking, connection-forming journey that is HERE I AM! We shared our ideas with each other until finally we each had a list that we felt reflected our most pressing inner desires.

My sister receiving some help with her list.

My sister receiving some help with her list.

And so today begins day one of month one. My first intention is exercise. The universe gave me a nudge to make this my first intention through an innocent comment made by an acquaintance yesterday. In what might be the most horrifying social moment (for both the speaker and the receiver) one can find oneself in, a woman I know paused her cell phone conversation, looked at me with wide eyes and said, “Oh! Are you expecting?” After I recovered from the complete brain combustion that followed, I politely laughed with her about the whole misunderstanding and we both tried to bounce back by profusely explaining that it must have been due to the flowing, baby-doll cut blouse that I was wearing that day (which I have now gladly donated to my sister, who is expecting.) That’s all I needed, universe. Got it. Exercise it is!

Behind this intention of Exercise is a desire to love my body and to honor this temple that I have been given. These are the only feet that I have to walk me through this life; the only hands I have to embrace others, to clap with the beat, and to raise in joy; the only lungs I have to bring me the breath of life; the only muscles I have to allow me to work, explore, and be helpful; the only throat I have to speak. I want to be fit, spry, flexible, ready to go. I specifically intend to not base my judgement of my progress on what I might look like to other people, but how I feel about my strength, power and health. As the process takes place, I will be patient and I will send positive, appreciative thoughts to my soft tummy and my dimpled thighs. I will love love love what I have while giving it more of what it needs.

I will explain the other intentions as their times come.  But before I go, I want to express my support to anyone who is also doing a list of their own. Remember to be gentle and loving. Keep your eyes open for the signs and wonders that might just be shown to you as you set your intention on the good and worthy things of life. To celebrate this first day of HERE I AM!, here is a little something to encourage you onward (wink):