This Sunday we celebrate Mother’s Day; a day in which I hope we all recognize and give thanks not just to our mothers but to all of the women in our lives who have been special to us, who have mothered us in their own unique ways. This year I am approaching Mother’s Day in a different frame of mind because of two experiences I had last Sunday.
The confirmation class went to attend worship at our sister church, Greenwood Memorial UMC, in Dorchester. During the worship, Marilyn Forman talked about the upcoming Mother’s Day Walk for Peace which raises money to work on ending the violence that takes the lives of our young people on the streets of Boston every year. As Marilyn was asking for support of the congregation she talked about how violence had affected the lives of their friends, neighbors and some of the members of their congregation, and this was the opportunity to bring attention to this important issue. It was, she said, the time for mothers to take a stand against violence in their community.
After returning to Sudbury, I then made my way over to the library to offer a prayer at a gathering of families from Sudbury whose children and spouses are serving in the military. The event was organized by the Sudbury Military Family Support Network which was created by our own Patty Houpt. During the course of the event, the families of our soldiers (including the Houpts and Tom Gerbe) stood to introduce themselves and to say where their children are serving or had served. The majority of those speaking were mothers who talked about the sleepless nights they have experienced while their children are/were in harms way. With the Milley family present the sense of danger and loss was just as prevalent as it was in hearing Marilyn speak at Greenwood. Although I did not hear the testimonies in worship last Sunday, I have been told that they too were moving reflections on the many aspects of being a mother.
In the Buddhist tradition there is a form of a breath prayer called tonglen. In this practice, you breathe in the suffering of the world and breathe out happiness and peace. It is an offering of compassion to ourselves, to others and to the world. Here is a tonglen prayer written by DeLona Campos-Davis for Mother’s Day:
I breathe in the daily frustrations small as they are, big as they can seem
I breath out patience for us all.
I breathe in the loneliness of days spent mothering on our own
I breathe out connection, community, compassion.
I breathe in the brokenness not being enough in the world
I breathe out wholeness leaving ideals behind, truth.
I breathe in the boredom: diapers, cooking, same every day
I breathe out simple pleasures: swings, finger painting, rocks.
I breathe in the exhaustion, the worry, the fear
I breathe out the calm energy, excitement.
I breathe in the rage at your plight, your place, your life
I breathe out peace, contentment, courage.
On this Mother’s Day, as on every other day, may we pray for peace, for comfort, for reconciliation, for understanding, for mutuality and community, and, in the words of Julia Ward Howe, whose poem started it all, “charity, mercy and patience.”