Mother's Day and Flower Communion

This Sunday Rev. Peter and DRE Chrissy Bushyager help us celebrate two cherished traditions: Mother's Day and Flower Communion. We recognize and affirm all those who have played a nurturing role in our lives, and we'll repeat an honored tradition of exchanging flowers that represent the beauty and diversity of our community.

Sermonette - "Mother's Day and Flower Communion"

By now, most of us know that the original Mother’s Day was established by the Unitarian Julia Ward Howe. It was a far cry from the holiday we celebrate these days. Howe was frustrated by seeing politicians sending their boys off to war, so she called for a world-wide meeting of mothers who would end the fighting and establish peace around the globe. Unfortunately, Julia Ward Howe’s vision hasn’t come to pass, American sons and daughters are still sent into harm’s way, and the Mother’s Day holiday has morphed into a special day of appreciation for all those who mother to us.

I grew up in what some call “The Golden Age of Television,” and every day I would see mothers on TV doing what mothers did back then. Basically they were in charge of running the house and raising the kids. June Cleaver, played by Barbara Billingsley, Donna Reed and others supposedly showed us what the ideal mother was supposed to be. As a child, their role was familiar to me because I lived it every day in my own home. My mother was a stay-at-home mom who baked cookies and greeted my sisters, brother and me when we got off the bus after school. “A woman’s place is in the home” went unquestioned in those days, at least as far as I knew.

What I didn’t know back then, and what I’ve come to realize, is that these women – the fictional ones on television and the real ones in our neighborhood and my own home – didn’t just bake cookies and clean house. No, much more than that. They were in charge. They ran the show. They got things done. While Dad may have been the so-called “bread-winner,” it was Mom who controlled everything. These mothers, portrayed as subservient and obedient, were in fact the ones who made it all happen. If you wanted or needed something, you didn’t go to Dad. You went to Mom.

Mother’s Day these days celebrates mothers as nurturers. As the ones who hold us and heal us. As the ones who kiss our boo-boos and make us feel better. As the source of love and care and compassion. And many mothers are these things and do these things. And they deserve to be appreciated and celebrated for it. But today, I want to name a different side of mothers: Their power and their fierceness. Picture, if you will, the Mother Bear with her cubs. We all know that getting between them is just about the most dangerous place you can ever be. Because mother bears – in fact, the mother of nearly every mammal – will do anything to protect and defend their young. Not all mothers are born nurturers, but there seems to be an instinctual fierceness that is born in the mother at the moment she gives birth. I’m wondering how you might see your own mother as powerful and “fierce.” If you’re a mother yourself, how are you powerful and “fierce?”

I would submit to you that, while we all need to be nurtured and cared for and held, these days what we need even more is a mother’s ferocity. We’re seeing that ferocity emerge, too, and we need to encourage and embolden it. We see it in the #MeToo movement. And we see it in the sheer number of female political candidates running for office these days. Julia Ward Howe was right. Men have done a terrible job of being in charge, and we need to hand over the control to the mothers.

One last thing occurs to me, too: We can all learn from this quality shared by most mothers. You don’t have to be a mother, or even identify as female, to claim the strength, the focus, the power and the ferocity of a mother. In this age when there is so much at stake, we can all pick our proverbial “children” and choose to protect and defend them with all the fierceness a mother could muster. Maybe that’s what we need right now. For us to be mothers all. May it be so.