13 May 2007

A Prayer for Mother's Day

Happy Mother's Day to all the mothers, fathers, and children of the world. Last night, I watched the Children of Beslan. Many children were left orphaned when their parents died in the siege,and many families lost their precious children. Once again I am thankful for the security, peace, and stability my family has experienced.

One of the blessings of a midwife is the continued presence in her life as your children grow. Our midwife shared with me standingwomen.org and their plans for today, based on the story of The Great Silent Grandmother Gathering: A Story for Anyone Who Thinks She Can't Save the World. "We will be standing for the world's children and grandchildren, and for the seven generations beyond them. We dream of a world where all of our children have safe drinking water, clean air to breathe, and enough food to eat. A world where they have access to a basic education to develop their minds and healthcare to nurture their growing bodies. A world where they have a warm, safe, and loving place to call home. A world where they don't live in fear of violence--in their home, in their neighborhood, in their school, or in their world. This is the world of which we dream. This is the cause for which we will stand. If you share this dream, please stand with us for five minutes of silence at 1 p.m. your local time on May 13, 2007, in your local park, school yard, gathering place, or any place you deem appropriate, to signify your agreement with this statement. We ask you to invite the men and boys who you care about to join you. We ask that you bring bells to ring at 1 p.m. to signify the beginning of the five minutes of silence and to ring again to signify the end of the period of silence. During the silence, please think about
what you individually and we collectively can do to attain this world. If you need to sit rather than stand, please feel free to do so. Afterwards, hopefully you and your loved ones can talk together about how we can bring about this world"

Previously, I thought that Mother's Day was just another Hallmark holiday, and that we need to honor our mothers every day. I have since learned that Mother's Day was created to unite women in peace after the Civil War. In 1870, social activist and poet Julia Ward Howe wrote the original Mother's Day Proclamation:

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.

Mother's Day is about peace, not flowers and gifts. As Gloria Steinem said, "Mother's Day is a an antiwar day, and antiwar statement." Let is us send prayers of peace to to all of the mothers whose children are fighting in wars, growing up with wars raging around them, or with terrorism threatening their safety. Let's pray for strength, peace and hope for this Mother's Day. I would like to send a special prayer to my friend Jen, who lost her husband and father of two small children on this day two years ago.

"Play is the highest form of research." -Albert Einstein