Wednesday, May 15, 2013

It's Mothers Day

And when I arrive on Sunday morning, Anna’s on the same bench I saw her on last night. I laugh and say, tell me you went home..and she laughs and tell me she did and we both laugh...
Many are absent due to Mothers’ Day, travel and illness but my son Dan has come home to surprise his mom and it always lifts my spirits to see him. And a cab pulls up with Harmonia Opera director and singer Emiko Iinuma whose presence is a surprise blessing. She is here to remember her mother.
Yes, it’s Mothers' day. 

Always a bit edgy. It’s not all hallmark. Some have wanted to be and can't be. Others have had bad experience with their . So on this day...for mothers, those who have had mothers, those who have been mothered by someone , for those who have  mothered others...and for those who have mothered us....we give thanks....

Do you know the origin of this day? I’ve been spending the week with friends from Serbia. In their country they have a day called " women's day."

Here in the US, it all goes back to  Julia Ward Howe. The First Mother's Day proclaimed in 1870 was a passionate demand for disarmament and peace.  Here is her original proclamation from 1870: 

Arise, then, women of this day! Arise, all women who have hearts, whether your baptism be that of water or tears!

Say firmly: We will not have great 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 taught them of charity, mercy and patience. We women of one country will be too tender of those of another 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 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 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 Caesars 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.

Here briefly is the biography of th amazing woman:

US feminist, reformer, and writer Julia Ward Howe was born May 27, 1819 in New York City. She married Samuel Gridley Howe of Boston, a physician and social reformer. After the Civil War, she campaigned for women rights, anti-slavery, equality, and for world peace. She published several volumes of poetry, travel books, and a play. She became the first woman to be elected to the American Academy of Arts and Letters in 1908. She was an ardent antislavery activist who wrote the Battle Hymn of the Republic in 1862, sung to the tune of John Brown's Body. She wrote a biography in 1883 of Margaret Fuller, who was a prominent literary figure and a member of Ralph Waldo Emerson's Transcendentalists. She died in 1910. My boys’ elementary school in Pittsburgh was named for Julia Ward Howe. 

It’s a typical American phenomenon.... We take something challenging, even radical,  and tame it....domesticate it, perhaps even imprison it?

Well, that’s my segue Segue into Paul and Silas. We have a lot of images of bondage here. First, the slave her  owner, and also  to a spirit...

And then Paul and Silas. There were actually  no laws against practicing or teaching the Jewish religion. Their charge would have to have been something like disturbing the peace or a public safety issue. But it’s obvious:    the real issue was  really economic. They were messing with the slave girl’s owner’s income production. And so they were imprisoned. 

It says around midnight, they were singing hymns and songs...I remember when I was arrested following the  Amadou Diallo death and the ensuing protests.  When I was taken into the cell, there was already a cell full of  black clergy in the jail. They were singing hymn and spirituals. And I immediately thouht of thsi passage. 

And then the jailer. First in bondage to  his job in the prison industrial complex. And then to fear. And  then to Chirst. 

So then there was this esrthquake. And Paul and Silas choose not to leave. they chose to free the jailer instead. When he asked what must he do to be saved, he could have been just worried about his own neck. (There are three jailbreaks in Acts. Usually pulled off with the assitance of angels. When Peter got sprung, Herod ordered that jailer put to death..)

The magistrates amd officials  act to preserve the status quo. The question that faces us is what is our bondage? What holds us, keeps us, from what we coild be, whay we are supposed to be? 

In the end, no prison can contain the God who gives "life and breath and all things." In the end, we need to be  freed from a mind set. We need to Free to be free. We need to strive to be a community that can offer support one another in that process. 

After the sermon, we spend some time talking about our mothers. What the greatest gift they gave us is. In may cases, it ws mothers who pass on the faith. One taught her son ti be a revolutionary by participating in a local ecclesiastical base communty which became the organizational  building blocs of the Nicaraguan revolution. And others learned patience. And perseverence.  And that it’s never to late to go for your dream. Or love. 

Where are they from? From Texas. And New York. And New England. And Texas. And Managua and Grenada, Nicaragua. And Tokyo. 

After services, we stay. Hang out for a little while. Dan and I have plans. I will stop at the apartment, pick up fresh Serbian bread and smoked meats.  Pick up flowers, fruit and guacamole. We’ll be four of us together. It’s Mothers’ Day. 

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