Reflection for Mothering Sunday
“Near the cross of Jesus stood his mother, his mother’s sister, Mary the wife of Clopas and Mary Magdalene.” – John 19:25, NIV.
“Met chief faces calls to quit as police clash with vigil women.” – Sunday Telegraph.
“Land of Hope and Glory, Mother of the Free.” – A C Benson, written for Elgar’s Coronation Ode and sung at the last night of the Proms.
Today is Mothering Sunday, the fourth Sunday of Lent, which is also known as Laetare (Rejoice) Sunday or Refreshment Sunday – a day of celebration and respite from fasting despite the penitential season. A time for remembering Mother Church and their place of baptism after childbirth, workers traditionally had the day off for this and to visit their mothers, often picking a wildflower posy from the hedgerows on the way. The day varies according to the date of Easter, whereas the secular Mother’s Day is usually kept on the second Sunday of May. However, the cosy image of families united on this day is in sharp contrast with reality this Mothering Sunday when so many parents and children are separated, or bereaved, by the Coronavirus pandemic.
However, it’s not just the pandemic that’s causing isolation and disruption currently. The last week marked Commonwealth Day and International Women’s Day but, amidst the celebrations of achievement, the unhappy divisions of alleged racism and mental health concerns within the Royal Family were also evident as well as the terrible irony of Sarah Everard’s kidnap and murder by a serving police officer meant to protect the public. With the Met’s Commissioner, Dame Cressida Dick, being the first woman to hold that role, awful scenes were shown from Clapham Common as police tasked with enforcing the Government’s pandemic restrictions clashed with women protesting about violence on the streets at a rally that was not allowed under the guidelines. Much negativity was created and, as the broadcaster Ayesha Hazarika commented, “This is a really grim day and also a very harrowing week for women.”
This is harrowing, not just for women but for all who long to see the issues of our day and the restrictions of the livelihoods and lives handled in a way that is mindful of the people affected by the sensitivities and divisions that have been created. Those tensions are part of ongoing human experience – two thousand years ago, a group of women also kept vigil in a place which was the focus of so much suffering as an innocent man died in agony on a cross. They and the disciples later found that grief and sorrow was turned into joy and hope as they all pieced together the story of what happened at the resurrection and new life began. In our day, we will eventually be able to piece our lives back together, tell our stories and make a difference when the time is right but, for now, patience and a bit of mothering may be needed. Melangell, the celibate Abbess who would today carry the title of Reverend Mother, showed that in her care for the humans and animals around her. May her example also inspire us to similar actions this Mothering Sunday as the challenge of rebuilding or changing the reputation and values of this Land of Hope and Glory, Mother of the Free, continues after such devastation.
With my prayers,