We remember the Magi,
Observers of stars, Evidence-based seekers
Who found their way to kneel before a baby.
May we, too, kneel before life’s intricate mysteries
Following the path of science-based searchers for truth
We remember Mary,
Birth-mother of a revolutionary prophet
The fetus in her womb a surprise,
Her choice a decision to magnify her hope,
The birth difficult,
Attended by a beautiful diversity of animals,
And a rag-tag gathering of vulnerable people.
May we too, kneel at the cradle of earth’s dreams for peace
And dedicate ourselves to revolutionary love.
We remember Joseph,
Who embraced the baby as his own
Believing that every child has a God-given entitlement to love and care.
May we too, stand by the women and children of this world
When patriarchal privilege and power threaten their freedom
And put their well-being at risk.
We remember the Angels
Singing in a cold night to the over-taxed poor,
Promising peace and goodwill to all.
May we echo their song in acts of solidarity and justice
For all souls—refugee souls, green souls, disabled souls,
Black souls, young souls, transgender souls.
May we join the bold, holy movement
To bring heaven to earth.
May the Morning Star brighten our hope for a new day,
And may laughter strengthen all our prayers. AMEN
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.
The first Mother’s Day was proclaimed by Julia Ward Howe. The same Julia Ward Howe who gave us “The Battle Hymn of the Republic.” Howe was a true social reformer in the best sense. An abolitionist, suffragist, poet — Howe’s Civil-war era writings are spirited and inspirational. She made this Mother’s Day proclamation in 1870, after the Civil War, to establish a Mother’s Peace Day. Howe knew the Civil War would not be the last war. Shall we give the proclamation a stamp of approval? We can all gather around Howe’s motherly words today and for Mother’s Days to come.
Candles of joy despite all sadness,
Candles of hope where despair keeps watch,
Candles of courage for fears ever present,
Candles of peace for tempest-tossed days,
Candles of graces to ease heavy burdens,
I struggle this year with the Thanksgiving holiday. Standing Rockis on my mind and coupling the injustices with the mythology of “The First Thanksgiving” makes me want to throw my pumpkin pie at the wall. November has been that kind of month when the divisions are crystal clear. They were always there. There was too much window dressing to notice. (That’s for another blog post.) As Rev. Dr. Rob Hardies of All Souls Church Unitarian in Washington, DC asked in his sermon Sunday “What does it mean to be people of the Welcome Table in the age of the wall?”
I found something to put this “holiday” into right relation — Lincoln’s official 1863 Thanksgiving proclamation. There’s no mention of pilgrims, Indians or pumpkins. It was written and signed in the time of civil war. So I’ll look to Lincoln this Thanksgiving. Hope we’ll all give this proclamation — in whatever faith or belief we hold dear — a chance.
Lincoln’s words can be our Thanksgiving prayer.
And I recommend to them that while offering up the ascriptions justly due to Him for such singular deliverances and blessings, they do also, with humble penitence for our national perverseness and disobedience, commend to his tender care all those who have become widows, orphans, mourners or sufferers in the lamentable civil strife in which we are unavoidably engaged, and fervently implore the interposition of the Almighty Hand to heal the wounds of the nation and to restore it as soon as may be consistent with the Divine purposes to the full enjoyment of peace, harmony, tranquility and Union.
Charles Dickens wanted to change hearts and minds about the plight of the poor in Victorian London. But it wasn’t originally a narrative message he was planning to write. Even Dickens changed course on this message himself. He wrote to a friend…
I’m not going to do the political pamphlet. I’m going to put out something at Christmas time. And that’s going to have 20 times the force.
Blog posts, Atlantic monthly essays, Tweets, NYTimes features just can’t make the same impact as a powerful story like A Christmas Carol now the 2nd most popular and recognized Christmas story — following the biblical nativity. To back up these stories, the author lived the life of many of his famous characters — Oliver Twist, David Copperfield. He saw the world of debtors prisons, misers, work houses, charity. We talk about being a “Scrooge” even “Scroogicizing” with a “Bah Humbug” around seasonal celebrations.
We can read or watch the real life contemporary versions of Dickens’ narratives. But what can we do with so much information? I sometimes feel numb after an hour of clicking, scrolling, reading. Another shooting. Another disaster. Another attack. Another post. An analysis — intelligent and less than 1000 words. Would a Scrooge be transformed and take action by reading Tiny Tim’s obituary from a social media link, and its subsequent analysis on poverty in London in a monthly magazine? Or shake his head and expect Tim’s father to show up for work after the burial?
As much as I’ve seen or read passages from A Christmas Carol it’s one of those stories worth the time it takes to pause and revisit again and again — until we get it right. The story makes all that information intended for the head, make its connection to the heart.
Below is a story about Charles Dickens and a visit to the Charles Dickens Museum in London (decked for the holidays) that broadcast on CBS Sunday Morning December 19, 2015.