Mother’s Day is celebrated in many countries as a way of honoring the special contributions that mothers make to our families and communities, and the unique value of mothering qualities. It’s observed on different dates in different parts of the world. In the United States, Mother’s Day falls on the second Sunday in May.
Given the proliferation of flowers, candy, and greeting cards that accompany Mother’s Day these days (it’s the third largest holiday in the US for sending greeting cards), I found it interesting to learn that this observance’s history in the US goes deeper than mere commercialization. For instance, it included promoting peace by honoring and bringing together mothers whose sons had fought or died on opposing sides of the US Civil War.
As a mother and grandmother, I appreciate the idea that this holiday has deep roots in the desire for peace. Mothers, like others, often have opportunities to act as peacemakers, whether we are teaching our little ones to share; promoting patience and forgiveness within our extended families; helping bring balance, good sense, fairness, and cooperation to activities we’re involved in; or praying for the establishment of peace in the world. The qualities of good mothering naturally tend toward peacemaking: qualities such as nurturing love, thoughtfulness, humility, patience, unselfish giving.
Women don’t have a monopoly on these qualities. Because we are the spiritual children of the loving God, made in His image (see Genesis 1:26, 27), we all have a natural ability to exercise mothering qualities, such as peacemaking, often and liberally. A few years ago, when a close friend had grown estranged from her mother, it was my husband’s expression of mothering qualities that prompted him to take her aside and gently encourage her to mend fences with her mom. And she did.
The need to get along, to live in harmony with one another, is a human necessity; it’s also a spiritual imperative. Christian Science teaches that God is our divine Mother. Mary Baker Eddy, in her primary work on Christian Science healing, wrote, “Father-Mother is the name for Deity, which indicates His tender relationship to His spiritual creation” (“Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures,” p. 332).
Receptivity to the fact of our unbreakable relationship to God inspires us to act in a way that’s consistent with who we are as His children. Our divine Mother-Father calls on us to live and work in harmony, in line with our true identity as members of Her universal family. The prophet Malachi put it this way: “Don’t we all come from one Father? Aren’t we all created by the same God? So why can’t we get along? Why do we desecrate the covenant of our ancestors that binds us together?” (Malachi 2:10, Eugene Peterson, “The Message”).
We are all held together in a spiritual bond that is sacred and timeless, because God, our heavenly Father and Mother, originates and perpetuates that bond. For centuries, prophets like Malachi have reminded us of our spiritual relationship to our Maker and, consequently, to one another. Christ Jesus continued and built on this teaching when he said simply: “Blessed are the peacemakers: for they shall be called the children of God” (Matthew 5:9). If we think of God as Mother, this Beatitude is all the more compelling. When we express peacemaking qualities, we demonstrate our real being as the children of that one universal Mother who nurtures us all.
Given this new insight into the thought behind Mother’s Day, I’ll likely approach the day a bit differently this year. I’ll still send my mom a card and gift, and trust it will cheer her. But I’m also going to devote more time and thought to prayer – thinking of and listening to our Mother, God, and asking Her how I can better understand and demonstrate the peace that we are meant to know and live. The answer to that petition may lead me to very simple things – new ways to perform simple deeds of love. But I know that if my prayer is pure, the answer will be a blessing, and will bring my observance of Mother’s Day more in line with the furthering of peace.