Tuesday, February 5, 2019

Border Trip, January, 2019

Border trip - Days 1 & 2.  Remember how I said at one point I was most concerned about my flights with the shutdown? So it took 2 days instead of one. My original flight was delayed several hours due to maintenance (thank GOODNESS there are still enough staff to actually do that!), but it cost me my connecting flight in Dallas. American Airlines blessed me with lovely shelter at a hotel for the night. So, instead of sleeping in this morning to get a good start for the week (which starts with training all day tomorrow), I was up at 4:30 AM to catch an early flight to San Diego! Pilots are all flying without pay, so I tried to thank each one on my flights. TSA folks also. They are ordered to, with the consequence of losing their jobs altogether if they refuse. It didn't take much to break through the "typical" TSA sternness, and get a few of them to smile or even laugh. I decided that was my ministry in transit to the border! As we so often say when faced with annoyances: if this is the worst thing I have to deal with, my life is pretty darn easy. I'm eager to see what tomorrow brings!

Border Trip - Days 3 & 4.  Training yesterday with roughly 20 other volunteers spanning races, genders, ages, denominations/religions.  This is the last week of the 40 day, 40 night Sanctuary Caravan effort.  So, SO encouraging to see/meet younger adults -- bright, strong in faith and love of the teachings of Jesus, full of energy and commitment to serving our Friends as they would Jesus, who was, himself, a refugee as Mary and Joseph took flight from governmental violence directed against him.  Learned a lot about how U.S. immigration laws have been so convoluted, or even ignored, as to make entering the country so incredibly confusing and difficult (particularly if you are of brown skin) that the process itself is traumatizing.

Many of our Friends are being actively hunted down by the gangs which virtually run entire communities based on extortion, burning down homes and businesses, and death or threats of death to those who do not cooperate -- gangs which oftentimes include police/government officials.  To that end, we are not allowed to take ANY pictures of, or name the people, the shelters, border agents and military personnel because it increases the danger many of our Friends are in.

The people doing the on-the-ground work here, whom we are assisting, are amazing.  You can imagine
the logistical and administrative nightmare this can all be, coordinating with other similar groups, managing so many people coming and going daily (Friends, volunteers), doing all the legal paperwork, and keeping everything organized. The place I'm working at today picks up people who have been approved to apply for citizenship and/or released from detention.  So ICE sometimes delivers Friends to this shelter or the shelter picks them up, brings them to the shelter where they are first looked over (and treated, if necessary) by volunteer docs and nurses, legal paperwork is done, showers are taken (oh the luxury!), phone calls to loved ones (in home country or here) are provided (very emotional), meals are served and cots are provided.  Children have an indoor playroom and play area outside in a limited space.  The idea is to get them on their way to their final destination asap/within 24 hours, because there is always another large group coming in the next day.  92 men, women, and children came in today alone.  80+ yesterday.  This is all absolutely legal.

They still live with a lot of fear; and, even though they are here now, they have learned to be afraid even here.  Seeing moms today in ankle monitors, which are otherwise used in the U.S. only for criminals, as they read to or played with their beautiful and very innocent children, crushed my heart.  Since the monitors are a symbol of criminality, that is easily what people assume about them – even though
migration/immigration is both an international and national right, by law; NOT a criminal act. 
I got to play with some of the children for a couple of hours and y‘know what?  Kids are kids, no matter where they were born and what language they speak.  And what did some of the grade-school aged children want to do for play (because that’s what it was for them)?  Practice saying and writing the alphabet and numbers up to 100 in English.  They are bright, these young ones, and will very likely be helping to teach their parents English, and many social customs they will pick up from other children. 
The littler ones were happy coloring, playing restaurant and serving up intriguing “meals,” etc.
These Friends were expecting "Give me your tired, your poor, Your huddled masses yearning to breathe free."  That's not what they and so many other immigrant groups throughout our history experienced upon arrival.  I, and so many others, so strongly believe it is our privilege to put skin on Jesus’ powerful teaching:  "As you have done/not done it for the least of these, my sisters and brothers, you have done/not done it for me."

Border trip - Day 5. 
Spent the afternoon and evening at the shelter again.  Packing family backpacks with clean clothing for each member (according to their sizes), toiletries (including diapers for babies), and clean underwear; playing with children (five 3-6 year old girls and I "choo-choo trained" around the front yard stopping wherever there was a person or persons sitting or standing and asking if they wanted a Coke Cola ( they insisted I be the engine!), watching a DVD of Winnie the Pooh in Spanish; escorting families to the showers (imagine the looks of delight, even joy, on their faces -- a SHOWER!) and to dinner... whatever needed to be done.  All the volunteers are initially assigned certain jobs, but often you end up doing whatever is needed if your particular job finishes up early.

I have found that a good-sized smile and "Bienvenidos!" ("Welcome!") greatly brightens the faces of even the most anxious-looking people (which is most of them, of course).  One young girl -- 10 or 12 years old? -- came out the tent where docs and nurses were treating those with head lice.  They rub and massage it in so tenderly...  This young girl came out with the stinky stuff on her hair and a poorly fitting clear shower cap on over it, looking just miserable.  I touched her shoulder, looked her in the eye, and with a twinkle in my own said, "Que bonita!" (How pretty!). She just stared at me for a few seconds like "Whaaaat?" and then we both giggled.  A simple gesture, just to take a little shame away, brings such joy in both the giver and the receiver (who by her response gave joy abundantly back to me!).

It is important to recognize that our guests not only have a lot of needs, they have so many gifts, so much to give and teach us as well.  They have been terribly  victimized by the immigration process -- remember these are people who are trying to LEGALLY enter the country -- but they are so much, much more than victims.  It doesn't take much effort to see the image of Christ in each one of them and to relate to them accordingly.  And, as always, the littlest ones are just soooo precious!

That means none of the volunteers are "heroes" coming to the rescue of "victims."  I say again: as Christians (both ourselves and them, who are coming from overwhelmingly Christian countries), these folks are not "aliens," "illegals," certainly not "invaders."  They are even more than our "friends."  As
fellow-Christians, they are FAMILY, brothers and sisters in Christ Jesus.  We welcome them to the U.S. as we welcome our own families into our homes.

Border Trip - Days 6 & 7.  Friday I spent most of the time working with people who were in charge of clothing donations and distribution.  I don’t know how many weeks many of them had been there, but they were some of the hardest working people I’ve ever met, and a hoot to boot!  As with the other aspects, this work is also a sizeable organizational challenge and, while sometimes one or the other would get cranky (who could blame them?!), they were “push forward, no matter what” type of folks, fun and inspiring to work with.

My last day was unforgettable.  In the playroom with a bunch of kids (ages 4-12 or so), several of the boys (ages 5, 7, and 12) and a tiny little girl wanted to practice writing and pronouncing English letters and numbers.  So as I wrote them on a small white board propped up on the floor against a wall, this little girl popped up and stepped over to me and asked me a question – her face maybe 12” from mine.  I didn’t understand (my limited Spanish!), so she asked again – and she looked at me like “How can you NOT know what I’m saying??”  Then, she seemed to freeze.  She kept staring at me, no blinking, no movement whatsoever, her face totally blank.  I asked “Está bien?” (are you ok?).  Nothing.  I asked again, “Está bien?”.  Nothing.  The boys looked a little concerned, but just shrugged their shoulders, and remained very patient and quiet.  Then she turned her face away from mine a bit, and stared off into space.  Suddenly, her eyes opened up like saucers and a look of absolute terror came across her face.  I don’t know what she was “seeing” or remembering, but again she didn’t move and just remained standing there looking terrified.  I stretched my arms out toward her and quietly said, “Ven aca?” (Come here?).  Nothing.  I moved my arms a bit closer.  “Ven aca?”  Nothing.  I gently placed my hands under her tiny arms and, saying “Ven aca?” again, pulled her gently towards me and lifted her onto my lap.  She curled up like a little ball and buried her face into my neck, as I nuzzled her head with my cheek and kissed her, whispering, “Está bien.  Está bien.”  (It’s ok.  It’s ok).  The boys remained quiet and patient.  After a few moments, she raised her head, looked at me again, got down off my lap, and walked as if sleep-walking to the room across the hall (dormitory) where her mother was.  She is 4 years old.  That’s the last I saw her. 

Border Trip: Day 7 After the very moving/disturbing experience with the little 4-year old seeming to have a vivid flashback to something which frightened her terribly, the boys and I continues practicing English letters and numbers.  After just a few minutes, I realized that some of the dads who had stepped in to check on their kids, had fully entered the playroom and were standing behind their kids, participating in what we were doing!  After a few more minutes, a mother entered and joined in.  Only problem was that the little room was now packed so tight it was getting hard for the other kids to play.  So one of the shelter staff people came to the door, saw the neat thing that was spontaneously going on, and said “Vámanos!”  (Let’s go!)  He led us to an actual classroom, empty for the moment, with a huge white board mounted on the wall.  Dads, kids, mom all found a place to sit, and we kept going, now with words and phrases.  I tried to think of words/phrases that might be particularly useful to them (like “abogado” – lawyer).  Then a few began to ask how to say words like “Dios” in English (God), “orar” (to pray), “Iglesia” (church), “En el nombre del padre, y del hijo, y del Espíritu Santo” (in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit.”).  Thankfully, I had the Google Translator app on my phone so I could check out words/phrases I couldn’t remember from waaaay back in college! They stayed for at least a half-hour.  We laughed a good bit between them trying to speak English and me trying to speak Spanish.  By then, lunch was being served. I left printed on the white board, top/center: "For I know the plans I have for you." declares the Lord, "Plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future." Biblia, Jeremia 29:11.

An hour or so later, many of them were out in front playing outside – again with a few parents supervising.  My shift was over, and as I walked out the door and along the front of the building where they were playing, I heard, “Adiós Joan!”  (That hard “J” is a bit difficult for them to say).  I, of course, got all choked up but called back, “Adios, amigos!  Buena suerte!”  (Good luck!)  So hard to leave, knowing I could just go back to a comfy hotel, then hop on a plane the next day to return to a comfy and safe home.
These friends are my extended family in Christ; not by anything I or they did, but by what Jesus did/does -- "For he is our peace; in his flesh he has joined [us] into one and has broken down the dividing wall, that is, the hostility between us."  Ephesians 2:14.

They are your family, too.

Joan Gunderman
January, 2019

Monday, November 4, 2013


I’m praying, meditating, facing our big picture window which looks out over Gilbert Lake.  The sun has just risen over the horizon and, after what felt like an unbearably long, ash-gray and rainy week, it is pouring forth light over all the wet, chilled creation.  Including me.

As I do my body prayer – "I am washed in the living waters of Christ.  The cross of Christ goes before me; the light of Christ surrounds me; the risen Christ lives in me" – the radiance of the sun’s light surrounds and warms me.  For the moment, I am in deep, deep peace.

I am praying for a friend’s brother, stricken with a brain tumor which, though surgeons tried to remove it, is drawing him closer and closer to death.  I see Jacob, wrestling with a stranger (who he identifies later as God) all night long, demanding a blessing before he lets go.  Then I see people bringing, often carrying, their loved ones to Jesus for healing.  I hold my arms out in front of me, holding my friend’s brother in this morning light.  Not only the light of the sun, but the Light in which there is no darkness at all.  Usually, if I hold my arms out, whether straight in front of me or to each side, they get tired, achy and, though my arms are empty, it feels like I’m holding a great weight.  That wasn’t happening as I stood, holding him in the light for some time.

Slowly, the light dims.  Without opening my eyes, I assume the light of the sun is being diminished by a passing cloud, or that the deadening gray is moving in yet again.  However, after a brief moment, the light not only returns, but becomes brighter.

And so I remain there, holding my friend’s brother in what feels like sheer holiness.

To my surprise, the light begins to get even brighter.  We are being soaked in it.  How can this be?  How can the sun out-brighten itself?  Even with my eyes closed, a few tears emerge from the sheer brilliance of it. Opening them just enough to peek, I see that the sun has now risen high enough to be shining off the lake, intensifying both the intense glow and the warmth of the Light.

I simply held him.  In the Light.  That’s all.  I don’t think I have ever personally experienced, both in body and spirit, someone else being blessed.  Someone struggling, wrestling through a dark night like Jacob, like my friend’s brother.  Jesus assures him,  “I will come and take you to myself, that where I am, you may be also.”   Eternal morning.  Eternal blessing.  Eternal Light.

“And there will be no more night; they need no light of lamp or sun, for the Lord God will be their light, and they will reign forever and ever." 

Friday, March 25, 2011

Lenten Lover

I am a Lenten lover. Quieter, reflective worship and hymns, more intentional listening for God, a simple yearning to touch the hem of Jesus’ cloak and be embraced by his light, the warmth of his love, his healing. During Lent, I seem able to sit in the presence of God and pray in a way that seems more like conversation, rather than the on-the-go, drive-thru prayers that often characterize my prayer life.

On-leave after a rather tumultuous Call, I am studying to be certified as a Spiritual Director/Companion/Midwife, feeling a strong call to that ministry; one which has been affirmed by others. I absolutely love it.

On a personal retreat, entering a period of meditation, I decide that on a mental mountain top there would be few distractions, nowhere to go, no tyranny of the urgent calling me away, all making it easier to listen for God -- just like Jesus did.

But there seems to be an obvious “no” to that, and I find myself, instead (in my imagination, or “in the Spirit”?) in a crude cell. The cell is unusual in that it is at street level in an ancient town on a narrow, busy, dirt street with people walking by. One entire wall of the cell is iron bars facing the street like a shop window. I can see everyone. They can see me.

“Why am I here? Why is my freedom being restrained in this cell?”

“You are in bondage to sin and cannot free yourself.

“Of course. In bondage not only by my own sin, but by the sins of others. I understand that, and I am looking to my spirituality classes to set me free.”

“No you do not understand. Your spirituality classes will not free you. Only I can free you.”

There it is -- the reason I’m a Lenten lover. These weeks of introspection, of deep realization that we are, truly, imprisoned by sin and unable to free ourselves -- all of that may seem, at a glance, shadowy and depressing. No wonder we want to hurry to Easter baskets and cuddly bunnies and egg hunts in an effort to comfort ourselves. More study, working harder and longer, 24/7/365 availability not only doesn’t free us, it may in fact restrain even more our freedom to not only know the doctrine, but to experience “Only I can free you.”

And oh my, what glory then to receive the Easter news: “Why do you look for the living among the dead? He is not here. He is risen!” The real miracle is not that Jesus/God freed himself from bondage. That probably wasn’t too challenging for the Creator of all life. The real miracle is that he frees us, over and over and over again. Amen. Come, Lord Jesus.

Monday, August 9, 2010


(Episode 1)

Twelve years old. Weekly Saturday morning Confirmation class, 1964. Pastor (the only name the kids ever knew for him) in black pants and black clergy shirt, looking like little less than God Almighty. He strode commandingly, back and forth, back and forth, in front of 45 anxious, insecure adolescents, lecturing. We sat in those hard, wooden, straight-backed chairs with the little 12”x12” writing arms attached, textbooks and written homework open. Even when we went on weekend Confirmation retreats at the Lutheran Bible Camp, the set-up was exactly the same. Nothing in the least bit casual about Confirmation. Better read that textbook, and take notes in class. Lots of notes. There would be a final exam at the end of the year. If you didn’t pass -- “B” or better -- you wouldn’t be Confirmed. “C” allowed one to take the exam again. Oh joy.

As he paced and lectured, he asked a question without even looking up. Being absolutely certain I knew the correct answer, I raised my hand. Since he wasn’t looking, and no one else raised their hand, I finally and quite confidently announced my answer.

“NO!” he said as he turned on his heal and pointed his amazingly large finger directly at me. Then he held his Bible straight out at arm’s length and looked me straight in the eye. I withered inside like a grape into a raisin as he said again, “NO!” Turning again on his heal, he asked the class the question a second time. No one dared raise their hand. This was remedied by our having to listen to the same lecture a second time. All of it. When this was completed, every single one of us knew The Right Answer.

Miraculously, when the final exam came, I correctly answered enough of the questions about the Bible and Lutheran doctrine, and could recite out loud the whole of Luther’s Small Catechism (including the meanings, of course), that I was confirmed as an Officially Approved Lutheran.

At age 13, “being confirmed,” as we called it then, was all about The Right Answers. It had very little to do with belief, or faith, a growing relationship with Jesus, or flat-out awe toward God. Actually, for most of us, it was really all about the rite of passage into the adult world by being allowed to wear girdles, nylons, and high heels (girls); and a man’s suit and tie which the boys had to learn to tie properly themselves (boys) -- most of which was hidden by the modest uniformity of white robes with wilting red carnations pinned firmly on front. On Confirmation Day, we were told that we were now adult members of the church -- though we were still treated like pesky kids and couldn’t vote on any church matters. Nevertheless, we were in the congregational big leagues.

Actually, just the high school Luther League.

This is typically when Lutheran kids and their families stop coming to church. Parents are confident that, now being an Officially Approved Lutheran, their kid’s got religion. Parental duty fulfilled.

(more to come)

Sunday, July 4, 2010


Shalom -- (Hebrew) Completeness, wholeness, health, peace, safety, tranquility, prosperity, rest, harmony, the absence of agitation or discord.

Yesterday, I finished moving out of my office, with the help of wonderful friends. I can't begin to describe how painful, emotional it was; I have poured my heart and my health into the congregation, whom I still love.

As we packed, we came upon things like photos from my Call Interview almost 5 years ago -- the Call Committee and I on a pontoon boat on Gull Lake, everyone looking windblown and eager; a day which felt more like a family reunion than a job interview. Photos of the many baptisms I did, babies clueless but families radiating such joy; pictures of weddings, confirmation classes. And precious little gifts from members, drawings from children...

When all the packing was done, it was time to say my final shalom to the building. I stood in the dishwasher room where I had worked elbow-to-elbow with members scraping and cleaning and loading dishes into the huge dishwasher. The Celebration Center where we had so many significant events, from Annual Meetings to the Bluegrass Gospel Concerts to the legendary rummage sales to congregational fellowship events. The Chapel rooms where I did so much teaching of both adults and kids, and participated in or led meetings, meetings, meetings….

Then on to the hardest place of all -- the sanctuary. With my arms full of the last batch of “stuff” I would load into my car in a few minutes, I walked slowly down the center aisle toward the altar as I did every Sunday for over 4 years. I stopped in front, bowed my head, and prayed for the congregation, as I also did every Sunday for over 4 years. I walked around the altar to face the congregation, and saw with my heart all of the people I had come to love sitting in the pews, looking forward toward the altar with expectation on their faces. The choir loft, where the choir and soloists proclaimed the Gospel to me every week. And the steps in front of the altar, where I first began doing Children's Messages, even though there were very, very few children in worship when I first arrived. After a few months, the number of children at worship began to grow, children who came barreling down the aisle for their special Message (and some wiggle time), some snuggled around me, some keeping a shy distance, but all eager and expectant.

Standing behind the altar, I spoke, slowly and deliberately, the opening Greeting/Blessing to the congregation which was gathered that day only in my heart:

“The grace of our Lord Jesus Christ,
the love of God,
and the communion of the Holy Spirit, be with you all.”

Their response echoed, “And also with you.”

I moved over and stepped up into the pulpit, where the Lord had used me continually to bring the Word of Life to worshipers in such a way that often surprised even me. As I gazed around the sanctuary, I blessed the congregation with the Benediction:

“The Lord bless you and keep you;
the Lord make his face shine upon you, and be gracious to you;
the Lord look upon you with favor…
and give you peace.”

Hardly able to make myself leave, I walked out of that Holy Space. I locked the church door, got into my loaded-down car, sat there for a few moments until the tears stopped so I could see the road, and drove away.

Today, I am simply resting in the great lap of God, who promises in this morning's First Lesson: "As a mother comforts her child, so I will comfort you" (Isaiah 66:13a).

Tomorrow? Tomorrow I move forward on this unpredictable journey of life and faith, dancing in the faithful, loving light of God.

"O God, you have called your servants to ventures of which we cannot see the ending, by paths as yet untrodden, through perils unknown. Give us faith to go out with good courage, not knowing where we go, but only that your hand is leading us and your love supporting us; through Jesus Christ our Lord." Amen. (ELW, Vespers, p. 317)

Tuesday, May 18, 2010


The disciples were together.
The doors were locked, because they were afraid…
John 20:19 

Jesus’ closest friends and students of grace were in anguish. Jesus, who not only embodied the “fullness of God,” but who had also embodied the fullness of being human, was dead. Dead and buried. Buried in a borrowed tomb like any Jewish peasant. Crucified with relish by the same people who, just a few days before, had welcomed him as a hero -- healer, teacher, miracle worker, with power over demons and oceans.

Though Jesus had raised and restored the already decomposing Lazarus from the dead; and had repeatedly told his disciples that he, also, would rise from the dead, such extraordinary possibilities weren’t even on their radar. They had just had a disastrous dose of “the real world,” after all. It would seem that even God was no match for the power of Rome, especially when coupled with the power of the Temple leaders’ rigid dogma and underhanded politics. From where they sat, there was no reason to wait expectantly, to prepare for the Easter that Jesus assured them would come.

Saturday was the day Jesus lay dead, the day the disciples hid out in a locked room, frightened that they might be next; the day their whole world had shrunk to just that room, filled with grief and hopelessness. There was no secret way out. Who knew how long they would be there?

People continue to have “good Friday” experiences, no matter what the cause -- divorce, death of a loved one, loss of employment, the doctor saying "terminal," a tragic accident -- when the trap door you didn’t know you were standing on suddenly opens and you find yourself falling, alone, into a very dark place. Hopelessness and dread cling to you like the dankness of a cave.

Saturday is the day the freefall comes to a stop. You land. Hard. Wounded, you look for a way out with what little energy you have after such a terrifying fall and landing. You see no doors, backlit by the sun, promising release. And if there’s a secret way out, that is not evident either. You lose all motivation, all hope. It seems to make more sense to get used to the darkness than to continue looking. Your whole world shrinks to that lonely, dark place.

Saturday is that long, hopeless, grieving day between good Friday and Easter. And Saturday can last a long, long time.

When it was evening on that day, the first day of the week, and the doors of the house where the disciples had met were locked for fear of the Jews, Jesus came and stood among them and said, “Peace be with you.” After he said this, he showed them his hands and his side. 
Then the disciples rejoiced when they saw the Lord. Jesus said to them again, “Peace be with you.”
John 20:19-21

When our world becomes that small, that dark, Easter just doesn’t seem possible.We lose all sense of expectancy that this will ever get better, that anything will ever change. Instead of being reassured if someone says “God is with you. God bless you,” we begin to wonder if God is around at all. Even later that day, when Mary assured them that Jesus was not only around, she had actually seen him, talked with him -- the disciples didn’t budge.

Instead of them having to find their way out of that room and go somewhere to find and see Jesus, Jesus comes to them in that small, dark place. Suddenly, unexpectedly, he is there, where they are. Easter came to them, and not in measure with their faltering faith. This is not the chocolate bunnies and jelly beans easter. Jesus comes precisely into their grief, their hopelessness. Rather than saying to them, “What’s the matter with you? I told you I would rise again,” he says, “Peace be with you.” Then he shows them his own wounds. Wounds from falling and crashing into a dark, solitary space -- often called hell. Wounds from having made a way out for us when there was no way. Wounds that looked an awful lot like their own.

Only worse.
 The Lord lifted me out of the pit of despair… 
He set my feet on solid ground and steadied me as I walked.
Psalm 40:2 
And so it is true:

Saturday is the hardest day of our lives.
Saturday can last a long, long time.

Easter comes.

Easter searches us out in the deep darkness. Jesus comes to us when we are least prepared for him…

…and loves to raise us from the dead.

Sunday, May 9, 2010


The idea of an annual Mother’s (Peace) Day originated with Julia Ward Howe, remembered primarily as the poet who wrote the words for “The Battle Hymn of the Republic.”

Born in May, 1819, Julia was an abolitionist and, with her husband Samuel Gridley Howe, co-published the anti-slavery newspaper The Commonwealth. She was a committed Christian, also active in the peace movement and the women's suffrage movement.

In 1870, Howe became outraged by the ravages of the Civil and Franco-Prussian Wars. Believing that women had a particular sensitivity and understanding of the human costs of war, Julia called upon women everywhere to stand up for peaceful resolutions and negotiations rather than violence and bloodshed. In an effort to draw this into public conversation and commitment, Howe issued a proclamation:

Arise then...women of this day!
Arise, all women who have hearts!
Whether your baptism be of water or of tears!
Say firmly:
"We will not have questions answered by irrelevant agencies,
Our husbands will 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, the 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 bosum of a 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 our dishonor,
Nor violence indicate possession.
As men have often forsaken the plough 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 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 Caesar,
But of God -

In the name of womanhood and humanity, I earnestly ask
That a general congress of women without limit of nationality,
May be appointed and held at someplace deemed most convenient
And 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.

In 1872, the first Mothers' Peace Day Observance was held on the second Sunday in June, and the meetings continued for several years. Her idea was widely accepted, but she was never able to get the day recognized as an official holiday.
After she died, other women took on the cause of establishing a Mother’s Peace Day, notably Anna Jarvis, an Appalachian woman whose own mother was an inspiring community leader involved in reconciliation efforts between Confederate and Union neighbors.

In 1907, the first Mother’s Day was celebrated in West Virginia. In 1914 the second Sunday of May was finally declared an official national holiday, “Mother’s Day,” by President Woodrow Wilson. It had taken 34 years, but Julia Howe didn’t live to see it.

Anna did. The day was intended to be spent first in church, and then at home with everyone writing special letters to their moms. In the spirit of Julia Howe, people were to be particularly mindful of mother’s teachings of “charity, mercy, and patience.” People wore red or pink carnations in honor of their moms if their mothers were living, white ones if they had died.

But Anna also lived to see this day, dedicated to peacemaking and world peace, quickly overtaken by commercialism. The greeting card industry jumped in, and Anna was appalled that anyone would buy a Mother’s Day card rather than write a letter themselves. Florists exploited the sentimental symbolism of the carnations, and made a fortune selling more and more every year. By 1924, just 10 years after establishing Mother’s Day as a federal holiday, Anna was so offended by the commercialization which had taken over the Day that she began to petition Congress to abolish it. It was no longer anything close to what it was intended to be. In 1930 she was arrested for disturbing the peace at a Mother’s Day carnation sale. She spent the rest of her life and finances fighting the holiday.

Today, Mother’s Day is one of the most profitable commercial holidays for florists, greeting card publishers, and phone companies. The emphasis on mothers’ roles in peacemaking and world peace has long since vanished.

Anna died in 1948. She had no children.

http://www.newsadvance.com/, article by Anne Gibbons, chaplain at Lynchburg University