Carnation Scarcely Enough

This article originally appeared in the May/June 1972 issue of Pioneer Magazine.

In the multitude of oftentimes meaningless special days and weeks observed throughout the year, Mother’s Day is one of particular significance.  This is a very special day which unites us in giving some form of recognition to our mothers, living or dead.

By act of Congress, May 8, 1941, the second Sunday in May was set aside “for public expression of our love for mothers.”  The carnation, signifying purity, sweetness and endurance, was adopted as the floral emblem. Whoever included the word endurance among the virtues of the carnation also knew about mothers.

Mother endures day after day, month after month, Janie and Johnny, also Father, in their less admirable moments—their ills, complaints, squabbles and tantrums. She has to do most of the worrying about the entire family. She squares their quarrels with each other, their friends and their teachers.

She covers up for them when father sets out on a discipline rage, bales them out of jams and generally tends herd on the entire flock. All this mother endures willingly and gladly because she is mother.

Mother’s love endures where all other things are swept away; it survives every challenge and every test; it is spoken of in the last words of the soldier on the battlefield; it is the last pillar of support along with God for those who are beset with the agonies of the body and the torments of the mind.

Mother could not endure all this if she were not in very deed a partner with God in the fulfillment of His benign purposes. In a classic painting a mother is shown bending over a crib, and she is looking into the future, recalling what the high priest Simeon said, that “a sword shall pierce his side.” What a responsibility; what a cross to carry, but with that prophecy she also knew that all the world would be blessed and made happy, saved and exalted through her Child.

The occasion was nearing when that prophecy was about to be fulfilled, and it was on that occasion that the perfect tribute was paid to motherhood. Her Son was on the cross, and the sword was readied to pierce his side.  The weeping mother could scarcely endure the sight. The love of his apostles was not sufficient to hold them there. All of them had left except one at whose side stood his mother.  Then it was that Jesus, our Lord, gave the one supreme tribute as an example to all sons everywhere and always as he turned and said to John, ‘‘Son, behold thy mother. Mother, behold thy Son.” His last thought, almost his last word, was for his mother.

So then, do we honor mother on Mother’s Day, humbly conscious of the love and inspiration that guide us through our lives whether she is at our side or thousands of miles away, or whether she sleeps the sleep of eternal rest.

A carnation is scarcely enough!

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