I first learned of the history of Mothers Day years ago during a sermon by the late Reverend Bob Crandall. With the scars of the Civil War still painful in 1870, Julia Ward Howe wrote the “Mother’s Day Proclamation” — a call to action asking mothers to unite in promoting world peace.About the same time, Ann Reeves Jarvis organized “Mothers’ Friendship Day” gatherings with former Union and Confederate soldiers, encouraging reconciliation.
Jarvis argued that American holidays were biased toward the accomplishments of men. (Um, do you suppose that would explain why so many holidays are focused on war?) Jarvis started a massive letter writing campaign, and in 1914 President Woodrow Wilson signed a measure officially establishing Mothers Day.
Then Wall Street took over. Florists, card companies, and chocolatiers began to capitalize on a new opportunity. By the time of her death in 1948, Jarvis was so disgusted with the commercialization of Mothers Day that she disowned her own creation and even asked the government to eliminate it.
In a nation where the unofficial religion is Materialism, it’s perhaps not surprising that a day honoring Maternalism would be corrupted by the merchants of commerce and blindly embraced by the masses.
Meanwhile, back on the urban farm, mothering thrives, uninhibited by the tentacles of Wall Street. On this week’s Fallon Forum, Kathy Byrnes and I talk about our hens, who while not presently mothers, may get that chance if we decide to rent a rooster for a few weeks. For my part, as one of the few males at Birds & Bees Urban Farm (the other resident males are, alas, drones), I’d be happy for a rooster’s company — for a short while.
Kathy and I are also grateful for the intense mothering provided by our three queen bees, without whom our hives would be chaotic places devoid of both structure and honey.
And even though she’s never been a mother (and never will be, thanks to spaying), our yowling feline, Mika, continues to perform yeocat’s work managing the farm’s mammalian pests.
Finally, we couldn’t save thousands of seeds each year without the female components of our vegetables. So, yeah, though it may be a stretch, here’s a toast to our plant mothers as well.
Honoring biological mothers, Kathy and I reflect on our own moms. We also honor the Mother of Us All — our planet, our home, this Earth.
On that note, I’ll close this week’s message with the last paragraph from my book, Marcher, Walker, Pilgrim:
“My deepest hope for my community of marchers — my bold, loving, crazy, incorrigible, and passionate family of battered climate warriors — is that we find happiness where ever we land and in however we work for a better world, and that each day we remember that we’re all cut from the same cloth, rolled from the same dust, children of the same bloodied cross or flowering lotus tree on a planet, our home, that we desperately need to love and protect.“
CLICK HERE TO LISTEN TO THIS WEEK’S PODCAST. Charles Goldman shares his take on Planet of the Humans. We also discuss whether voting by mail favors Democrats or Republicans, and Kathy Byrnes and I talk about Mothers Day — its history, its meaning in our own lives, and how mothering plays out on an urban farm.
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