Arise, Mothers, Arise!
The state of the world came sharply into focus after the birth of my first child. I saw it all–good, bad, and ugly–not just as my own habitat, but as the place where I would hand off my son and his generation. This realization lit a fire of motivation in me to do everything possible to ensure that I leave this planet better than I found it.
That’s a tall order to be sure, but I believe that small things eventually add up to big things. I believe that change can, does, and will happen with directed energy and focus. I also believe that mothers are uniquely positioned to effect and create opportunities for change.
Years ago, on my first Mother’s Day as a mother, I was delighted to discover the origins of the holiday are more substantial than the greeting card industry would have us believe. Julia Ward Howe issued this Mother’s Day proclamation back in 1870:
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 great questions decided by irrelevant agencies,
Our husbands shall not come to us reeking of 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 of ten 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 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 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.
Her proclamation is just as relevant today as it was 145 years ago. We, as mothers, weep with the mothers all over the world who are losing their children to war, poverty, police brutality, and other injustices.
Sitting with all of this anguish, with the pain of these broken-hearted mothers in our hearts, a dear friend and I decided to start a new Mother’s Day tradition in our community. We’ve invited all of the mothers in our area to join together for 30 minutes on Mother’s Day morning–before the brunches, before the (precious and beloved) handmade cards, before the massages–in an inter-spiritual and inter-generational gathering of solidarity with mothers everywhere and to meditate and pray for peace.
We will meet in the park, we will read the original Mother’s Day Proclamation, we will meditate and pray together, and we will commit to doing everything within our power to create a more just and peaceful world.
When I decided that this gathering was something I needed to create, I reached out to Mirabai Starr, who is a mother, author, and poet. I asked her if she would write something for us to read together before we parted ways on Mother’s Day. She directed me to something she’d already written:
“Mother of Mercy, the cries of the world keep me awake at night. I rise from my bed, but I cannot locate the source of the wailing. It is everywhere, Mother coming from all directions, and my heart is shattered by the sheer intensity of suffering.
You of boundless compassion, expand my heart so that I can contain the pain. Focus my mind so that I can arrive at viable solutions, and energize my body so that I can engage in effective action. Give me the courage to follow the crumbs of heartbreak all the way home to the place where I can be of real service. Let me dip my fingers into the dew of your compassion and scatter it now over the fevered brow of this world.”
It is my fervent hope that by gathering together, by joining forces and intentions, we can “arrive at viable solutions,” energized in body, mind, and spirit to courageously go forth as agents of Peace and Justice, not only for our own children, but for the children of mothers the world over.
This is an original post to World Moms Blog by Ms. V.
Image Credit: Google Images