“Mine eyes have seen the glory of the coming of the Lord …” You can thank the author of that song, the classic “Battle Hymn of the Republic,” for helping to establish our beloved Mother’s Day holiday. But if Julia Ward Howe were alive today she probably wouldn’t recognize it.
Breakfast in bed. Flowers, chocolates, and greeting cards. These are the symbols of our modern Mother’s Day celebration, an annual shout out to thank moms for all they do. (Although, if you ask me, an annual breakfast is getting off pretty cheap.)
President Woodrow Wilson officially sanctioned Mother’s Day on May 9, 1914 with lots of flowery language about the role of moms and Hallmark has been head over heels happy about that pronouncement ever since. What we often end up honoring on that day is what I call the Peaceful Mother icon. The calm and cool image of a domestic goddess, she could make June Cleaver wring her apron in despair. While some kids had that mom – palatable, pleasant and perky – many others had the kind that you meet in the wild; you know, the ones that eat their young.
Anytime we attempt to gloss over an entire group of people, especially those as complex, mysterious and beautiful as the “fairer sex,” we fail to see the fascinating and full truth that is looking us square in the face. We inevitably miss out on the shadow (not dark) or unexpressed side of woman – our wild passions, strength, power and creativity. Spend some time in the warmth and wildness of Mother Nature, who is sometimes red in tooth and claw, and the diversity of maternal expressions and intelligence takes on a whole new meaning. What would our world look like if we recognized and tapped into the boundless wisdom and authority of motherhood?
That brings us back to the inspiration for our story. Mrs. Howe — social activist, abolitionist, and suffragette — was an original model of the Mothers For Peace icon. She and her husband met President Abraham Lincoln and, naturally, they discussed the Civil War. Distressed by the thought of the endless violence and war that plagued society, she did what any uppity woman and fierce mother would do. She called the women together to create world peace. Written in 1870, her “Appeal to womanhood throughout the world” started a pacifist revolution.
Mother’s Day Proclamation for Peace
“Again, in the sight of the Christian world, have the skill and power of two great nations exhausted themselves in mutual murder. Again have the sacred questions of international justice been committed to the fatal mediation of military weapons. In this day of progress, in this century of light, the ambition of rulers has been allowed to barter the dear interests of domestic life for the bloody exchanges of the battle field. Thus men have done. Thus men will do. But women need no longer be made a party to proceedings which fill the globe with grief and horror. Despite the assumptions of physical force, the mother has a sacred and commanding word to say to the sons who owe their life to her suffering. That word should now be heard, and answered to as never before.
“Arise, then, women of this day!
“Arise all women who have hearts! Whether your baptism be that of water or of tears!
“We will not have questions decided by irrelevant agencies. Our husbands shall 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 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 bosom of the 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 out dishonor nor violence indicate possession.
“As men have often forsaken the plow 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 then solemnly take counsel with each other as to the means whereby the great human family can live in peace, each bearing after their own time the sacred impress, not of Caesar, but of God.
“In the name of womanhood and of humanity, I earnestly ask that a general congress of women without limit of nationality may be appointed and held at some place deemed most convenient and at 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.”
What a magnificent vision for humanity today! So on this Mother’s Day I invite you to really get to know the woman that you call your mother. Offer a special gift by listening to her stories, honoring her experiences, and asking about her dreams. Our world is a more peaceful place when women’s heart songs are heard and respected. And while you’re at it, offer a toast to Julia!
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Through her ministry, “Doorway Into The Infinite”, Rev. Maria holds the vision for the transformation of the consciousness of planet earth. She is a spiritual change agent committed to… educating people in the process of healing… empowering the world one creative thought at a time… and experiencing peace in our lifetime. Her articles, essays, and meditations have been published in various magazines. She has self-published numerous books and manuals, and released two recordings of guided meditations. She’s created a variety of classes, workshops, and spiritual performance pieces, where she expresses her profound interest in spirituality and peace. For more information, she can be reached at her website: www.be-the-change.com or at her e-mail: RevMariaS@aol.com
Top photo: A young man and his mother. (Tim Forkes)