Mother's Day is just around the corner and with it we think of brunches, cards, and flowers to honor the mothers in our lives.
Those of us who are mothers cherish the hugs from grubby toddlers, the hand-made cards, the bear-hug from our husbands with a heartfelt, “I appreciate you,” whispered in our ears.
In our over-busy world full of days when the responsibilities on our shoulders threaten to overwhelm us, these moments are precious and absolutely must be celebrated.
But those are a mere shadow of what Mother's Day harkens to (and certainly shouldn't be relegated to one day a year), as I wrote in my article, Why Mother's Day is for the Birds.
You see, Mother’s Day most certainly IS about love. But it’s not just about the cozy, commercial love that snuggles up and stays home — that's merely the hearth to stoke the fire of a much greater, wider, deeper love.
It’s about love that throws open the door and marches out of our homes, beyond our fences and neighborhoods and into the hurting world to feed the hungry, shelter the homeless, comfort the hurting, mother the motherless, and bring relief to those who are parenting all on their own.
Mother’s Day love is dangerous, revolutionary love that unites our one human family and reminds us that we belong to each other and that it truly takes a village to raise a child.
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The Revolutionary History of Mother's Day
Mother's Day wasn't born as a day to celebrate mothers the way we do today. It was actually born out of a war-weary proclamation as a call to women everywhere to no longer tolerate war but to actively work to bring about peace, which starts at home in the way we teach our children.
Julia Ward Howe, the poet, activist, and abolutionist best known for penning the lyrics to The Battle Hymn of the Republic, spoke up in 1870 – just a few short years after the intensely bloody American Civil War – with these words:
Arise, all women who have hearts, whether your baptism be that of water or of 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 been able to teach them of charity, mercy and patience. We 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 bosom of the devastated earth a voice goes up with our own. It says, “Disarm, disarm! The sword is not the balance of justice.” Blood does 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 then solemnly take counsel with each other as to the means whereby the great human family can live in peace, each learning after his own time, the sacred impress, not of Caesar, 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.
This speech was given at a rally she organized on what she called “Mother's Day for Peace.” Howe dedicated the celebration to the eradication of war and organized similar festivities in Boston for years.
Nearly 40 years later in 1907, another women's rights activist, Anna Jarvis of Philadelphia, began the campaign to have “Mother’s Day” officially recognized, and in 1914, President Woodrow Wilson did this, proclaiming it a national holiday and a “public expression of our love and reverence for all mothers.”
So, this year I urge all of us to have a different kind of Mother's Day.
First, revel in the joy and love of those in your home and your heart – cherish them deeply! There is nothing wrong with enjoying the company of those you love, especially, mothers, as your loved ones seek to honor and cherish you. It is holy and wonderful that they do so!
Likewise, a day to sit back and take stock in all you do and teach as a mother is a beautiful thing.
Interestingly, my favorite line in Howe's proclamation is, “Our sons shall not be taken from us to unlearn all that we have been able to teach them of charity, mercy and patience.”
Think of it! Our role as mothers to teach our children the deep lessons of compassion and mercy is not to be disavowed or glossed over, but recognized as most sacred – even world-shattering – even though it doesn't always seem like it when we're breaking up yet another squabble.[Tweet “Teaching our children the deep lessons of compassion and mercy is world-shattering, even though it doesn't always seem like it when we're breaking up yet another squabble.”]
So, our first joy on Mother's Day is to revel inwardly with our own families – and our second is to seek and serve outwardly.
Whether that's offering help to a single parent in your community, giving support to a mother who is struggling, bringing a meal to a new mother, or by supporting organizations who work tirelessly with the motherless: refugees, orphans, and homeless youth, there IS a way for each of us to serve.
The Compassion Collective
One tangible way to serve is through The Compassion Collective. The Compassion Collective works specifically with refugee children in Europe who have lost their parents and with homeless youth in America. Just in the last five months, they have distributed more than $1.4 million in aid to children in these situations.
There are three things that are especially notable about The Compassion Collective as a worthy way to support children around the world:
1. The Compassion Collective uses ZERO percent of donations given for aid for their administrative costs – they raise those funds in different ways.
2. While you get to choose how much you'd like to give, the maximum donation amount is $25, purposely to show that together we can affect great change.
3. You don't have to give time or money to support their work – sharing their mission via social media is just as important. Perhaps even consider adding an overlay to your Facebook profile photo.
Want to know more? Click this button read about their work, to support them on social media, or to donate today.
Here's a more detailed description of their work:
Supporting Unaccompanied Refugee Children: On any given night, there are over 35,000 refugee children on their own in Europe, having lost their parents, temporarily or forever. Children are sick and starving and thousands of people are trapped on closed borders, living in horrific conditions. Funds from The Compassion Collective are feeding thousands of starving people every day, providing medical care for the pregnant and sick, and saving drowning babies from the sea. We will continue to care for the mothers and fathers who have lost everything trying to find peace for their babies. We will mother these motherless children of ours.
Supporting homeless youth in the United States: On any given night, there are well over 200,000 hungry, cold, homeless youth sleeping on the streets of America. They are homeless because of poverty, abuse, aging out of foster care, illness, and rejection. We will be working across the United States to mother the motherless by sheltering, feeding, and clothing our youth in cities including Philadelphia, L.A, Portland, Detroit, and New York City. There is no such thing as other people’s children. Let’s step in for those who couldn’t parent their babies. As our partners at Project HOME say: None of us are home until all of us are home.
Other Ways to Serve
And of course, if you'd prefer not to support The Compassion Collective, there are thousands of other ways you can serve.
Sign up to cuddle babies at a crisis nursery in your area, help at a women's and children's shelter, volunteer at your local food bank, become a mentor for a new mom or at a crisis pregnancy clinic, become a big brother or sister to a runaway teen, donate to a different organization that serves mothers and children… merely find a way that's realistic for you.
So this Mother's Day, allow yourself to be served and celebrated by those who love you, then seek and serve those who are broken and hurting, either right next door or around the world, and know that the small things really DO change the world and make it a more beautiful, joy-filled, peaceful place.