Just as a mother would protect her only child
At the risk of her own life, even so let us cultivate
A boundless heart towards all beings.
~The Buddha (Metta Sutra)
A woman by the name of Anna Jarvis wanted to remember her mother for her activism in working to improve the health of the people in her community. Jarvis’ mother organized a Mother’s Friendship event to bring the confederate and union soldiers together for a peaceful gathering. There were other women Julia Ward Howe, Elizabeth Cady Stanton, and Elizabeth Smith who fought for peace and encouraged mothers to speak out.
But it was Jarvis who convinced her mother’s church to celebrate Mother’s Day on the anniversary of her mother’s death. Jarvis campaigned for a national day honoring mothers. Her cry was heard for in May of 1914 President Woodrow Wilson established the first Mother’s Day observance. Around the world in England, France, Sweden, Denmark, India, China, and Mexico, they celebrate Mother’s Day. However, if one asks their mother why celebrate Mother’s Day, one answer may be that every day is Mother’s Day.
During World War II’s darkened days it was our mothers and fathers who kept the family together. We observe Memorial Day to honor the soldiers who have passed away fighting for our freedom and independence and the head of the household that kept us safe, warm and as a family. Unfortunately some families had sons and daughters who joined the armed forces who did not come home.
Those families were faced with loss of property, livelihood, racism and no freedom. Approximately 120,000 Japanese and Japanese Americans were forced into concentration camps. Some avoided camps by leaving to live in another state, yet their lives were just as difficult for it was filled with hard work and loneliness.
But it was mainly the mothers who kept the family together and who continued with hope for the return of their sons/daughters. These mothers were strong and remained strong throughout our lives. In Hawaii, It was the minister’s wife and mothers who sent each son off to war. They were at the train station to share encouragement and reminders of home. They sent their sons and daughters with Namu Amida Butsu. It was the women of the temples who took care of the temples when a minister and the family were shipped off to dwell in concentration camps on the mainland.
We share our Namu Amida Butsu with all mothers and give our thanks to them for their compassion and guidance. Even if one’s mother is no longer with us, we share our Namu Amida Butsu in thankfulness and gratitude for sharing their compassion, wisdom and the teachings of the Buddha. Their entrusting is passed down to generations to come. They gave so much without asking for anything in return. Namu Amida Butsu to my mom.
It is simply Namu Amida Butsu everyday and any place. Mothers know her children well and they know what we are. They know our strengths and weaknesses and have always taught us to follow our own path with Nembutsu on our side. Happy Mother’s Day to past, present and future mothers. We send our Nembutsu with love, honor and respect. To those who lost a loved one in war, it is Namu Amida Butsu. Happy Mother’s Day and we hope to see you at the Memorial Day cemetery service on May 29, 2022.
Gassho Rev. Seijo Naomi Nakano