Meet Laura. She was walking down a trail at the Grand Canyon as I was walking up. Most hikers that day carried backpacks and wore sturdy boots, some with crampons on the soles to negotiate the snow and ice patches that lurked in the shadows. Laura lugged her cello case and wore flimsy footwear more suited for a quick trip to the grocery store.
Settling on a spot, she unpacked her instrument and played through some scales and a few simple pieces. She was just learning the cello and wanted to hear what it sounded like at the world’s most famous canyon.
I don’t know if Laura is a mother, but she was brought into the world by one, and she’s probably a mother figure to kids who know her and to any pets she feeds.
This weekend we honor mothers and all those who have a mother’s heart. The first Mother’s Day observation was a post-Civil War proclamation by Julia Ward Howe in 1870. Howe was an abolitionist and a peace activist. These are her words:
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 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 & 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.
The United Nations estimates that in 2012 the U.S. will rank 49th among the nations of the world for fewest occurrences of infant mortality. But have no fear, we hold down the #1 position when it comes to military spending, more than the next fourteen countries combined. In Howe’s words, “Let [women] solemnly take counsel with each other as to the means whereby the great human family can live in peace.” A few more cello players at the Grand Canyon would be a good start.
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