The Mother Of All Bombs

April 14th, 2017  |   

“The mother of all bombs.”

Those are the words I heard this morning as I checked the news.

That’s the description of the bomb, a 21,600 lbs GBU-Massive Ordinance Air Blast, dropped on a target in Afghanistan, the largest non-nuclear bomb ever used in combat.

The mother of all bombs? What an outrageous description of this instrument of death.

Mothers do not birth bombs.

Mothers birth babies.

Babies, who too often become canon fodder where, in Matthew Arnold’s words, “ignorant armies clash by night.”

As Good Friday comes to a close, a particular mother comes to mind. I think of her often, have written about her in the past, and bring her to mind once again.  

Perhaps some of my readers remember this woman. I met her at a church service in a rural parish in North Carolina, where I had been invited to preach. It was the summer of 1990, six months before the U.S. invasion of Iraq, that became the Gulf War.

I shared my concern, in the sermon and in prayers, anticipating a possible impending war. A woman in a pew, just to my right, began to cry, very quietly,

After worship, this woman approached me and apologized for having cried. She then proceeded to tell me that her son, a Marine, was on his way to the Middle East. She was worried about a possible war. As if to justify tears, she said, “I hope you understand. I’m just a mother.”

Those words troubled me as I drove home. 

Back in Raleigh, I told Judy what had happened. As a woman, a mother, she understood this woman she had never met, and understood my troubled spirit over her tears and her words. “Just a mother.”

On Monday morning, I called Doug Hostetter, the Executive Secretary of the Fellowship of Reconciliation. The call resulted in the formation of the delegation that took me, along with 16 others, to Iraq, and then back home to work against our nation’s thirst for war.

Before this Good Friday comes to an end, another woman comes to mind, Phyllis’s Boyens, who introduced me to the Appalachian music written and sung by her legendary father, Nimrod Workman, a United Mine Workers of America coal miner, who later dedicated himself to the task of getting our country to face up to the health concerns surrounding black lung.  On Good Friday, Phyllis sang her father’s songs, intermingled with the reading of the crucifixion passages from the Bible, and my meditations and prayers.    

I still recall Phyllis’ rendition of “O Death,” sung just before the reading of Jesus’ final words before dying: “When Jesus had cried out again in a loud voice, He yielded up His Spirit.” It was a poignant way, back then and particularly now, to stare down death, divorce mother from bombs, and turn toward nonviolence.

While we have time.

Entry Filed under: Fig Tree Notes Archives

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Nations will hammer swords into plows, their spears into sickles, there shall be no more training for war. Each person will sit under his or her fig tree in peace.
Micah 4:3 - 4