Mothering Sunday

Kamis, 07 Juli 2011

As we all know, Mother's Day is celebrated in the US on the second sunday of May. But in the United Kingdom the occasion is celebrated as Mothering Sunday.

Originally a Christian holiday, Mothering Sunday was established to honour Mother Mary - a tradition that is believed by many to have been adopted from the Roman practice of worshipping the mother goddess Cybele during mid-March. The day had a different significance in the 17th century England when people made it a point to visit their "Mother Church" or Cathedral of their hometown at least once in the course of a year. Mothering Sunday used to be that sacred time when people came back to their native place to visit and pray in their "Mother Church", where they were baptized. Those working away from home were given a leave by their employers for this purpose. It is not clear when this tradition began but historical records testify to the fact that people indeed adhered to the custom and paid a visit to their "Mother Church" on this particular day, laden with offerings.

With the passage of time, the day became not only a Christian holiday but also a time for homecoming. For little children and daughters who worked away from home as domestic servants, it was a day off to visit their mother and family. Many of them came back not only with offerings, but also small gifts, flowers and special cakes for their parents, specially the female ones. Any youth engaged in such act of duty was said to go 'amothering' and the cake intended for his mother was called the "mothering cake". This is possibly the reason behind the name 'Mothering Sunday'.

The Mothering Sunday tradition began to decline when the English society went through a rapid transformation after the Industrial Revolution. But the occassion slowly regained its popularity in the late 19th century. In present times, Mothering Sunday is a celebration of motherhood and has become quite similar to the American Mother's Day. It is now a day to honor mothers and other mother figures, such as grandmothers, stepmothers and mother-in-laws and make them feel special with gifts such as small jewellery items, chocolates, luxurious clothes, flowers, greeting cards and cakes. It is not a bank holiday in the UK and public transport is easily available though cafes and restaurants are booked as many people have the habit of treating their moms or mother figures to brunch, lunch or high tea on this special day. Those staying away or abroad usually send gifts or cards to their mother.

Mothering Sunday is observed on the fourth Sunday of Lent. It is observed exactly three weeks before Easter Sunday and usually falls in the second half of March or the beginning of April.

The Story of a Mother

A mother sat there with her little child. She was so downcast, so afraid that it should die! It was so pale, the small eyes had closed themselves, and it drew its breath so softly, now and then, with a deep respiration, as if it sighed; and the mother looked still more sorrowfully on the little creature.

Then a knocking was heard at the door, and in came a poor old man wrapped up as in a large horse-cloth, for it warms one, and he needed it, as it was the cold winter season! Everything out-of doors was covered with ice and snow, and the wind blew so that it cut the face.

As the old man trembled with cold, and the little child slept a moment, the mother went and poured some ale into a pot and set it on the stove, that it might be warm for him; the old man sat and rocked the cradle, and the mother sat down on a chair close by him, and looked at her little sick child that drew its breath so deep, and raised its little hand.

"Do you not think that I shall save him?" said she. "Our Lord will not take him from me!"

And the old man--it was Death himself--he nodded so strangely, it could just as well signify yes as no. And the mother looked down in her lap, and the tears ran down over her cheeks; her head became so heavy--she had not closed her eyes for three days and nights; and now she slept, but only for a minute, when she started up and trembled with cold.

"What is that?" said she, and looked on all sides; but the old man was gone, and her little child was gone--he had taken it with him; and the old clock in the corner burred, and burred, the great leaden weight ran down to the floor, bump! and then the clock also stood still.

But the poor mother ran out of the house and cried aloud for her child.

Out there, in the midst of the snow, there sat a woman in long, black clothes; and she said, "Death has been in thy chamber, and I saw him hasten away with thy little child; he goes faster than the wind, and he never brings back what he takes!"

"Oh, only tell me which way he went!" said the mother. "Tell me the way, and I shall find him!"

"I know it!" said the woman in the black clothes. "But before I tell it, thou must first sing for me all the songs thou hast sung for thy child! I am fond of them. I have heard them before; I am Night; I saw thy tears whilst thou sang'st them!"

"I will sing them all, all!" said the mother. "But do not stop me now--I may overtake him--I may find my child!"

But Night stood still and mute. Then the mother wrung her hands, sang and wept, and there were many songs, but yet many more tears; and then Night said, "Go to the right, into the dark pine forest; thither I saw Death take his way with thy little child!"

The roads crossed each other in the depths of the forest, and she no longer knew whither she should go! then there stood a thorn-bush; there was neither leaf nor flower on it, it was also in the cold winter season, and ice-flakes hung on the branches.

"Hast thou not seen Death go past with my little child?" said the mother.

"Yes," said the thorn-bush; "but I will not tell thee which way he took, unless thou wilt first warm me up at thy heart. I am freezing to death; I shall become a lump of ice!"

And she pressed the thorn-bush to her breast, so firmly, that it might be thoroughly warmed, and the thorns went right into her flesh, and her blood flowed in large drops, but the thornbush shot forth fresh green leaves, and there came flowers on it in the cold winter night, the heart of the afflicted mother was so warm; and the thorn-bush told her the way she should go.

She then came to a large lake, where there was neither ship nor boat. The lake was not frozen sufficiently to bear her; neither was it open, nor low enough that she could wade through it; and across it she must go if she would find her child! Then she lay down to drink up the lake, and that was an impossibility for a human being, but the afflicted mother thought that a miracle might happen nevertheless.

"Oh, what would I not give to come to my child!" said the weeping mother; and she wept still more, and her eyes sunk down in the depths of the waters, and became two precious pearls; but the water bore her up, as if she sat in a swing, and she flew in the rocking waves to the shore on the opposite side, where there stood a mile-broad, strange house, one knew not if it were a mountain with forests and caverns, or if it were built up; but the poor mother could not see it; she had wept her eyes out.

"Where shall I find Death, who took away my little child?" said she.

"He has not come here yet!" said the old grave woman, who was appointed to look after Death's great greenhouse! "How have you been able to find the way hither? And who has helped you?"

"Our Lord has helped me," said she. "He is merciful, and you will also be so! Where shall I find my little child?"

"Nay, I know not," said the woman, "and you cannot see! Many flowers and trees have withered this night; Death will soon come and plant them over again! You certainly know that every person has his or her life's tree or flower, just as everyone happens to be settled; they look like other plants, but they have pulsations of the heart. Children's hearts can also beat; go after yours, perhaps you may know your child's; but what will you give me if I tell you what you shall do more?"

"I have nothing to give," said the afflicted mother, "but I will go to the world's end for you!"

"Nay, I have nothing to do there!" said the woman. "But you can give me your long black hair; you know yourself that it is fine, and that I like! You shall have my white hair instead, and that's always something!"

"Do you demand nothing else?" said she. "That I will gladly give you!" And she gave her her fine black hair, and got the old woman's snow-white hair instead.

So they went into Death's great greenhouse, where flowers and trees grew strangely into one another. There stood fine hyacinths under glass bells, and there stood strong-stemmed peonies; there grew water plants, some so fresh, others half sick, the water-snakes lay down on them, and black crabs pinched their stalks. There stood beautiful palm-trees, oaks, and plantains; there stood parsley and flowering thyme: every tree and every flower had its name; each of them was a human life, the human frame still lived--one in China, and another in Greenland--round about in the world. There were large trees in small pots, so that they stood so stunted in growth, and ready to burst the pots; in other places, there was a little dull flower in rich mould, with moss round about it, and it was so petted and nursed. But the distressed mother bent down over all the smallest plants, and heard within them how the human heart beat; and amongst millions she knew her child's.

"There it is!" cried she, and stretched her hands out over a little blue crocus, that hung quite sickly on one side.

"Don't touch the flower!" said the old woman. "But place yourself here, and when Death comes--I expect him every moment--do not let him pluck the flower up, but threaten him that you will do the same with the others. Then he will be afraid! He is responsible for them to our Lord, and no one dares to pluck them up before he gives leave."

All at once an icy cold rushed through the great hall, and the blind mother could feel that it was Death that came. "How hast thou been able to find thy way hither?" he asked. "How couldst thou come quicker than I?" "I am a mother," said she.

And Death stretched out his long hand towards the fine little flower, but she held her hands fast around his, so tight, and yet afraid that she should touch one of the leaves. Then Death blew on her hands, and she felt that it was colder than the cold wind, and her hands fell down powerless.

"Thou canst not do anything against me!" said Death.

"But our Lord can!" said she.

"I only do His bidding!" said Death. "I am His gardener, I take all His flowers and trees, and plant them out in the great garden of Paradise, in the unknown land; but how they grow there, and how it is there I dare not tell thee."

"Give me back my child!" said the mother, and she wept and prayed. At once she seized hold of two beautiful flowers close by, with each hand, and cried out to Death, "I will tear all thy flowers off, for I am in despair."

"Touch them not!" said Death. "Thou say'st that thou art so unhappy, and now thou wilt make another mother equally unhappy."

"Another mother!" said the poor woman, and directly let go her hold of both the flowers.

"There, thou hast thine eyes," said Death; "I fished them up from the lake, they shone so bright; I knew not they were thine. Take them again, they are now brighter than before; now look down into the deep well close by; I shall tell thee the names of the two flowers thou wouldst have torn up, and thou wilt see their whole future life--their whole human existence: and see what thou wast about to disturb and destroy."

And she looked down into the well; and it was a happiness to see how the one became a blessing to the world, to see how much happiness and joy were felt everywhere. And she saw the other's life, and it was sorrow and distress, horror, and wretchedness.

"Both of them are God's will!" said Death.

"Which of them is Misfortune's flower and which is that of Happiness?" asked she.

"That I will not tell thee," said Death; "but this thou shalt know from me, that the one flower was thy own child! it was thy child's fate thou saw'st--thy own child's future life!"

Then the mother screamed with terror, "Which of them was my child? Tell it me! Save the innocent! Save my child from all that misery! Rather take it away! Take it into God's kingdom! Forget my tears, forget my prayers, and all that I have done!"

"I do not understand thee!" said Death. "Wilt thou have thy child again, or shall I go with it there, where thou dost not know!"

Then the mother wrung her hands, fell on her knees, and prayed to our Lord: "Oh, hear me not when I pray against Thy will, which is the best! hear me not! hear me not!"

And she bowed her head down in her lap, and Death took her child and went with it into the unknown land.

The Lark and It's Young Ones

A child went up to a lark and said: "Good lark, have you any young ones?"

"Yes, child, I have," said the mother lark, "and they are very pretty ones, indeed." Then she pointed to the little birds and said, "This is Fair Wing, that is Tiny Bill, and that other is Bright Eyes."

"At home, we are three," said the child, "myself and two sisters. Mother says that we are pretty children, and she loves us."

To this the little larks replied, "Oh, yes, OUR mother is fond of us, too."

"Good mother lark," said the child, "will you let Tiny Bill go home with me and play?"

Before the mother lark could reply, Bright Eyes said, "Yes, if you will send your little sister to play with us in our nest."

"Oh, she will be so sorry to leave home," said the child, "she could not come away from our mother."

"Tiny Bill will be so sorry to leave our nest," answered Bright Eyes, "and he will not go away from OUR mother."

Then the child ran away to her mother, saying, "Ah, every one is fond of home!"

An inspirational short story for Mother's Day

A man stopped at a flower shop to order some flowers to be wired to his mother who lived two hundred miles away.

As he got out of his car he noticed a young girl sitting on the curb sobbing.

He asked her what was wrong and she replied, "I wanted to buy a red rose for my mother.

But I only have seventy-five cents, and a rose costs two dollars."

The man smiled and said, "Come on in with me. I'll buy you a rose."

He bought the little girl her rose and ordered his own mother's flowers.

As they were leaving he offered the girl a ride home.

She said, "Yes, please! You can take me to my mother."

She directed him to a cemetery, where she placed the rose on a freshly dug grave.

The man returned to the flower shop, canceled the wire order, picked up a bouquet and drove the two hundred miles to his mother's house.

Kenneth Baker

Honesty, kindness and loyalty came easily to my mother, but she had problems with accuracy.

Asked to describe someone she had met or something she had seen, she would brighten the facts with little exaggerations until her own eloquence dazzled her into stopping. Before her very limited audience - my father and me - she would turn into a diva of divagation, perhaps to fill the voids my father's reserve created. Though irked by this habit, I judged it less a failing than a sort of misspent generosity. At least she never had to give court testimony.

A hopeless compulsion to unravel her descriptive embroidery probably drove me to writing nonfiction. I still have to slap myself to remember that there is no such thing.

Just when I thought I had the knack of discerning useful information in my mother's fog of words, she threw me.

When I started college, she returned to secretarial work to help meet the expenses, after 20-odd years as a homemaker.

On my first visit home from my out-of-state alma mater, my mother and I talked about her new job.

Everything had changed since she got her certificate from the Katherine Gibbs School in Boston, which taught office skills. The new electric typewriters really got her going. She had never seen or even heard of anything like them.

"The carriage doesn't move!" she said. "Or I should say it only turns over, so you can spool the paper around it. The ribbon moves back and forth instead of the carriage. And instead of keys, the machine has this metal ball with all the letters and punctuation marks raised on its surface. When you work the keyboard, the ball jumps up and hits the paper with whatever letter you type, and jumps back, as fast as your fingers can move. It's just amazing!"

Who would have believed such a story in 1964? Not I. It's a good thing she didn't live to describe software.

A few months afterward I happened to see IBM's original Selectric typewriter in action for the first time. I recognized it instantly from my mother's description.

Of course, after that, I could never trust her all over again.

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Sabtu, 05 Februari 2011

 
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