Honoring all our Mothers

Written on: June 4, 2013


Sunday (May 12, 2013, ed.) is Mother’s Day.  My nephew cautions the family about the commercialization of life, noting that days like Nurse’s Day and Administrative Assistant’s Day and such are designed to promote consumerism.   No doubt many of us will agree with him.   However, in spite of the chocolate strawberry and red roses ads that abound this week, Mother’s Day supports something other than purchase power.   Whether you tweet it, text it, or phone it, “I love you, Mom” is, as they say, priceless.  In my parish church – and perhaps in many other places of worship – we will invite all the mothers to stand and we will applaud their selflessness, that essential trait required of parents.  At the church I attend in Camden, Father Doyle will invite us to thank our mothers, grandmothers, great grandmothers, and all the way back to the beginning of time for saying “yes” to life and giving us the chance to come into being.

Mothers come in many different packages, of course.  Stepmothers, foster mothers, single mothers, adoptive mothers, grandmothers and godmothers are some of the varieties we honor.    Would that every child had someone to genuinely and generously mother her.   Knowing this is not the case, however, hopefully we stretch out our hands and hearts to children and adults who have not had that important advantage in life.

I learned recently that one of the first mentions of a Mother’s Day in our country came in 1870, from Julia Ward Howe. When Howe wrote her “Mothers’ Day Proclamation,” she called for more than an appreciation day for mothers.  She roused “all women who have hearts” urging them as mothers to stand up against war!   In the Proclamation, she challenges mothers with these words:    “We women of one country will be too tender to those of another country to allow our sons to be trained to injure theirs.”   Her call for a general convention of women to find the means to live in peace could be issued again and again across decades of war.

This Mother’s Day, I think of another “Mother” – Pachamama, they call her in Peru and Ecuador – Mother Earth.  I think that Julia Ward Howe in our day would tweet a new Mothers’ Day Proclamation, reminding us all that as humans never really completely let go of the bond that links them to their mothers, humanity cannot and should not ever let go of the bond that links us forever to Mother Earth.   She is home to us, and we are one with all that came from and lives within this home.   Many faith traditions have spoken of our Pachamama and our responsibility to love and protect her, as we would love and protect our mother.

Our new Catholic pope, Pope Francis, pleaded, “I would like to ask all those who have positions of responsibility in economic, political and social life, and all men and women of goodwill:  let us be ‘protectors’ of creation.”

Rabbi Saperstein, from the Religious Action Center of Reform Judaism, writes, “Humankind has solemn obligation to improve the world for future generations.  Minimizing climate change requires us to learn how to live within the ecological limits of the earth so that we will not compromise the ecological or economic security of those who come after us.”    The Dalai Lama speaks of a brief window of opportunity to take action, to preserve humanity from imminent disaster and to assist the survival of the many diverse and beautiful forms of life on Earth.

I cannot call my mother on the phone, but we communicate spiritually and I will say those priceless words again, “I love you, Mom”   In response, I hear her cajoling me to demonstrate my appreciation to all the “mothers” of my life.  In gratitude for all that Mother Earth – Pachamama – has given us, I join my mother and Julia Ward Howe in a new Mothers’ Day Proclamation – “Arise, women of this day!  Arise all women who have hearts! – Do not fall prey to consumerism nor the myth of separateness.   We are all connected.   We are all one.  Let us come together.  Let us pray and act  — to love and protect all our sisters and brothers, but especially now — our earth, our home, our mother.”

Sister Eileen White, GNSH

published in the Bucks County Courier Times From a Faith Perspective column Friday, May 12, 2013

Sr. Eileen White currently ministers with women who have been victims of human trafficking.  She is a compassionate and passionate presence to the women she serves.  Sr. Eileen has been a long time advocate for issues of Social Justice, with a particular interest in Peace and Justice and Care for the Earth.

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