|UNITY OF VANCOUVER
3814 FRANKLIN ST. VANCOUVER, WASHINGTON 98660 360-696-0996
Honoring Unity's Mothers
Reverend Bernadette Voorhees
May 8, 2022
All Rights Reserved
WELCOME AND OPENING: Many of the people who have made a real difference in this world have been mothers.
Do you know that Motherís are the foundation of the Unity movement? It is because of their absolute faith in God and their willingness to go through adversity with God as their partner, that we are here today to celebrate Motherís Day with hundreds of other like-minded Unity Students scattered all over the world.
Unityís Statement of Faith: ďThere is only one presence and one power in my life, God the Good omnipotent.Ē
PRAYER / MEDITATION
Now is the time in our service when we find that quiet, silent place within, where we know that we are now and always have been one with the one presence and one power - - God. On this very special day when we honor mothers, let us begin by acknowledging the Mothering principle that is within every one of us--male and female. No matter what manifestation we may be expressing in this life experience, we all have that nurturing, caring, loving principle within us.
As you think about this Mothering principle, realize it is that within us that cares and nurtures, not only others, but also ourselves. So often in the outer expression of motherhood, so much is given to others, that mother forgets to give to herself. But since we all have 'mother' inside, we now recognize that this is a time for giving to ourselves as well as to others. So right now, give yourself some love, maybe even a hug. Feel that loving Mother principle within you, pouring through you an increased measure of love and upon you, an awareness of Mother Love in you, until you begin to appreciate yourself more fully and love yourself more freely and completely. Self-acceptance is knowing that you are a miraculous conception. In the mind of God, you are a miraculous person. There is enough God to go around so there is enough love to go around, enough love to care for your mind, your heart, your whole being. The loving aspect of God now reaches out and touches the minds and hearts of all those you love and care for. Just pour out all your feelings of caring and nurturing and loving to them. Just think and feel how wonderful it is to love. As you love those who are near and dear to you, you can also reach out with the great loving nature and love everyone everywhere on this planet. You can pour out your love to Mother Earth and see her blessed, nurtured and cared for. You can reach out beyond this planet, beyond time and space, and send love to those who have lived and moved on to their next dimension of life, you can reach out to those yet to be born - and know right now, a loving environment is being prepared for their future arrival.
Now as we bring our time of meditation to a close know that together we have established a greater consciousness of the mothering nature that exists eternally within all of us and it shall be manifested as loving and caring in our world of earth as it is in Heaven. So beloved as you open your eyes, know that you take love with you everywhere you go and let the mothering nature that is your nurture, care for and bless. Amen.
HONORING UNITY'S MOTHERS
Charles Fillmore, co-founder of Unity, often said, ďIt is because of two great ladies that we have the Unity Movement: My wife, Myrtle Fillmore and my mother, Mary Georgiana Stone Fillmore. Unity exists today because of the time, the love and the devotion they gave, not only to their own children and their own families, but to all others as well.Ē
This morning I want to share some little-known history about the early days of Unity. Our story begins in England in the 1700ís, a time when pirates would come in close to shore with their ships and steal away children to be slaves and that is exactly what happened to 13 yr. old John Fillmore. One day as John was out exploring, a band of pirates saw him and stole him away from his loving home. Can you imagine what his mother felt when he didnít come home for dinner? In fact, he never came back, and his family never knew what happened to him. For the next 5 years, from the age of 13 to 18, John was a slave, enduring things we canít even imagine.
Years later, John would tell others that the only reason he didnít become a pirate was because of his motherís love; because of what she had taught him, he knew what they were doing was wrong. Then one day, the pirate ship came close to Boston Harbor and John seized his opportunity. He jumped overboard and swam to freedom. That is how the Fillmore family came to this country. It was a rough beginning but that was only the beginning. In time, John became a successful businessman in the New York area. He married and had a son, he named Henry.
Henry was an adventurous boy who rebelled at city life. As soon as he was able, he took off for the north woods of Minnesota and built a log cabin. In time, he met another pioneer family and married their 18 year old daughter, Mary Georgiana Stone in 1852.
From the very beginning, life was hard for them, not only because they lived in the wilderness, but because their marriage didnít work. Some marriages donít work, no matter how how hard we try. We wish they would, but they donít. Two years into their marriage, on August 22, 1854, they had a son. They named him, Charles Sherlock Fillmore. Two years later, they had another son and named him Norton. But Mary and Henry continued to have marriage problems and feel the tremendous stresses of living in the wilderness. One of the major stresses of living in the wilderness was the bands of Indians who would war with each other. They outnumbered the settlers who often found themselves caught between warring tribes.
One day, when Charles was just two years old, Mary was alone in the cabin and a band of Sioux Indians burst in and grabbed him right out of her arms. You can imagine Mary, tears streaming down her face, screaming at the Indians, thinking she would never see her baby again. She must have felt the same agony of heart that Johnís mother had felt. Thank God, later that day, that band of Sioux returned the child to her arms. You can imagine the joy she now felt in her heart. Again crying, but now out of joy and gratitude.
After 9 years of marriage, Henry and Mary separated. Henry moved 10 miles away to concentrate on his furrier business and left Mary to make it on her own. He rarely saw the children after that and within a few years, he disappeared entirely, never to be seen again.
So here is this young mother with 2 young children living alone on the frontier with all the dangers and daily chores and somehow, she made it work. Even though there was very little money, when 9 year old Charles dreamed of having ice skates like the boys in nearby St. Cloud, Mary somehow raised enough money to order those skates through the mail. Charles was so happy opening that box but the happiness Mary felt was even greater. You know how it feels to give your kids something to make them happy. At that point, you donít care about the struggle; that gets pushed aside. Youíve done it and it feels wonderful. Mary was very proud of her accomplishment. When Charles was 10 and in the 4th grade, he fell through the ice while skating. He was injured so badly, they didnít think heíd live. Mary cared for him day and night for two years until he started to feel better but his body was never the same. He was plagued with constant pain and a withered leg, but at least he could once again move about. He went back to school, but after two years of being out of school due to his illness, he was so far behind, he stayed only a few weeks. 12 year old Charles was desperate to help his mother that he loved so much and said, ďMamma, I am going to help you,Ē and he went to work in a print shop. When Charlesí brother Norton turned 14, he ran away from home. For the next 5 years, Mary grieved the loss of her son and continued to live there with Charles hoping Norton would return but they never heard from him again.
During his illness, Mary and Charles had read stories about Oklahoma, Texas and the Wild West. From those stories, Charles dreamed of becoming a cowboy. When 19 year old Charles left home, Mary didnít say ďNortonís gone, your fatherís gone, you're the only one I have left, you canít leave me too. Iíll be alone in the wilderness.Ē Mary expressed her Mother love saying, ďCharles, you do anything you need to do to become successful in this life and always remember that my love is with you.Ē
Charles hugged his mother and said to her, ďIím going out to seek my fortune. Iíll strike it rich and then Iíll send for you.Ē But Charles found that living life and trying to make it in the wilderness alone was harder than he ever imagined. But he made it, probably because his mother had been such a great example and in 1878, when Mary was 44, Charles sent for her saying, ďMama, youíll never be alone again.Ē By this time, Charles had fallen in love with a school teacher named Myrtle Page who became the other dynamic female force in his life. She helped Charles transform himself from a hard drinking cowboy with a 4th grade education into a successful real estate broker. They married March 29, 1881 Myrtle was 36, Charles 27.
Charlesí mother Mary thought Myrtle was the best thing that ever happened to Charles. They were like sisters. When Myrtle who had a tubercular condition from childhood, became sicker and sicker and the doctors told her there was no way she could survive, Mary took over the major role as mother to the three children, Lowell, Rickert and Royal. She took over all the things Myrtle couldnít do, no matter how much she wanted to or how hard she tried. Mary cooked the meals, ran the family and became active in every part of their daily lives.
As I said, Charles was in real estate and he would buy homes to fix up and sell. They probably always had a for sale sign on the front lawn. One of these homes was 702 Wabash where in 1886, Myrtle accepted her healing. They lived in 15 different homes while dreaming of owning their own.
In 1898, Charles Fillmore bought a house at 428 Elmwood, titled it in the name of Mary Georgiana Stone Fillmore and gave it to his mother. You could say it was a Motherís Day gift. It held all the family gatherings over the next 26 years. Each day, Mary and Myrtle would cook dinner for up to 16 people. Eventually Myrtleís second son Rickert built a house for his mother called the Arches right across the street. Youíve probably heard the story that Myrtle Fillmore didnít want a kitchen in the Arches because she wanted to do other things with her life but this wasnít her idea, it was her sonís. Why? Rickert said a home with no kitchen was a way of giving his mother a reward for all the cooking she and Mary had done as he and his brotherís were growing up. Mary Fillmore lived to be almost 100 years old and cooked all the family meals well into her 90ís. She lived right next door to the Arches at Unity Village in what is now the golf club house.
I have one last story about a motherís love before I end this. You remember that Myrtle almost died of tuberculosis before 1886, when she accepted her healing. Just 4 years later, in 1889, her boys said, to her, ďMama, we want to climb Pikeís Peak.Ē So Myrtle and her boys set out by mule and on foot to climb Pikeís Peak. They left at 6 a.m. and arrived at the summit 22 hours later at 4 a.m. Here is what Myrtle said about it: ďWe picked our way over boulders and rock, upward, ever upward as we do in our thoughts from material to spiritual. At 4 oíclock in the morning, the tired and happy climbers reached the top and there they beheld the beauty of life in the golden sunrise.Ē
This speaks volumes about a the strength and love of this mother and what she was willing to do for her children. Myrtle and Mary Fillmore gave much to life, their children, to God and Unity. Both of the dynamic women in Charlesí life passed within 6 1/2 months of each other. Mary Fillmore on March 12, 1931 and Myrtle on October 6, 1931. As we celebrate motherhood here today, we celebrate the lives they lived and their contributions to the Unity way of life. God bless you and Happy Motherís Day.
JOKE: The children begged for a hamster, and after the usual fervent vows that they alone would care for it, they got one. They named it Danny.
Two months later, when Mom found herself solely responsible for cleaning and feeding the creature, she located a prospective new home for it. The children took the news of Danny's imminent departure quite well, though one of them remarked, "He's been around here a long time--we'll miss him."
"Yes," Mom replied, "But he's too much work for one person, and since I'm that one person, I say he goes."
Another child offered, "Well, maybe if he wouldn't eat so much and wouldn't be so messy, we could keep him." But Mom was firm. "It's time to take Danny to his new home now," she insisted. "Go and get his cage."
With one voice and in tearful outrage the children shouted, "Danny? We thought you said Daddy!"
Dear God, one of the most incredible gifts you ever gave me as a human being is my physical mother. I thank you for that incredible gift. I thank you for all the times we've spent together and all the lessons she shared with me. Every day I will make my life an example of her love, and in my life I will make her love very much alive and her life not wasted. Her love is the life I live. I thank you my dear mother, for your love, patience, and incredible kindness hour after hour. For the life I have today, I give the credit due to you. Amen
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