Sunday, May 11, 2008

Happy Mothers Day

Mother’s Day has always been a day of gratitude for me – for my own mother, who continues to be a major influence in the person and the mother I’ve become; for my wonderful grandmothers who were (and are) both wise, funny and authentic women in their own way; and, now for my Will and Owen, who have taught me to love life and all its gifts deeply all over again;for Rob, who helps keep me sane, keeps me laughing, and generally makes it possible to survive the whole motherhood thing intact; and for Rob's mother, who taught him to be the kind, caring, loyal person he is today.

Happy Mother’s Day to all of you and your families – and especially to my own mom, whose guidelines for living are the subject of this Mother’s Day column I wrote for today’s Ledger-Enquirer.
A footnote: This morning I caught the last half of an interesting radio interview with Karen Armstrong, a former nun turned scholar of world religions and author of "A History of God," among other books. You can listen to it at the Speaking of Faith Web site. She referred to that same simple golden rule (which we teach children but too often forget as adults – and which was a central tenet in my mom’s unofficial guidelines for living) a couple times in the course of the interview. She recounts a story of “Rabbi Hillel, the older contemporary of Jesus who'd been approached by a bunch of pagans who said they would convert to Judaism if Hillel could recite the entire Torah while he stood on one leg. And Hillel stood on one leg and said, ‘Do not do unto others what you would not have done unto you. That is the Torah, the rest is commentary. Go and learn it.’” And she later adds that Jesus himself “teaches a version of Hillel's golden rule, but He says, ‘Do unto others as you would have done unto you.’” Armstrong returns repeatedly to compassion as a core virtue across religions and says at one point “Our future depends on learning to listen.” Compassion, she says “means ‘to feel with.’ Not to feel sorry for, but to say, ‘If I were in his position, maybe I would feel the same.’” So there you are: If a rule is golden enough to reach across religions it must be worth teaching to your children and relearning yourself.


April said...

Annie - I loved reading about your mom and family and how your upbringing inspires you now. Rob and I have used your parents as inspiration and guide for ourselves (What would Uncle Tom and Aunt Nancy do?). They were as parents in the '70's ad 80's living the principles at the heart of many of today's environmental/alternative movements(i.e. living simply, eating whole foods, cultivating a creative, meaningful family life). We also are going for their kind of family fun. Some of my happiest childhood memories are of dancing in your living room.

Also, I was inspired to listen to the Karen Armstrong interview. There are a couple of things that struck me. A rabbi friend of hers tells her that religion is not what you believe, but what you do. We are the most creative when we are willing to give ourselves away and we are our most sterile when we are seeking to glorify ourselves in some way. And I loved the ts eliot poem she was inspired by - Ash Wednesday (worth googling in my opinion). I especially loved the line - "Consequently I rejoice, having to construct something
Upon which to rejoice"
(so many things to choose from for reasons to rejoice...)
Thanks for sustaining mother's day inspiration... Love, April

Annie Addington said...

I love that you were struck by the "religion is what you do" comment. I wrote it down as she said it and then left it out for this post -- since it didn't connect to the mother's day column (too much for a "footnote"). I was also moved by the Eliot poem excerpt, told Rob I loved it and was intending to go look it up. Thanks for reminding me to go do that now. Maybe we can all dance in the living room, with our kids this time, when we see you in Colorado in June?

shannon said...

There's a great children's book we read, The Golden Rule by Ilene Cooper and Gabi Swiatkowska, illustrating the rule in all its various religious expressions, through a conversation between a young boy and his grandfather. It's also beautifully illustrated.

As a practicing Catholic, I love to pray the Hail Mary for it's a prayer invoking her intercession and compassion for us. It's also my goal as a mother to practice this same compassion and pass it on.

Annie Addington said...

That's sounds like a great book for us Shannon. They have it at the Columbus Library so I've added it to my to-get-at-the-library list. Thanks!