February 25, 2022

Virtual Prayers for Motherbirds: A moment to Collaborate and Honour Our Mothers

“For mothers are the first educators, the first mentors; and truly it is the mothers who determine the happiness, the future greatness, the courteous ways and learning and judgement, the understanding and the faith of their little ones.”
— ‘Abdu’l-Bahá

For so many of us, adjusting to a drastically reduced social footprint in the last couple of years has been difficult. Learning to regain continuity in community life, how to pray together, how to study and learn together and how to serve together has taken some time. But through that, there have been many examples of activities that would have not come to be if it were not for the creativity of the friends to respond to the needs of our time and those people around us. In some cases, the current reality has actually created opportunities to connect and serve in ways that would not have been possible otherwise. The Prayers for Motherbirds devotional is one such activity.

My sister Monique and I lost our mom, Margaret Paterson, in 2017 when she passed away without warning. In the years that followed, we processed our grief each in our own way, but made sure that we found time to connect and reminisce together and benefit from the healing powers of communal prayer as well.
So, when we decided in 2021 that we wanted to do some service in our mother's name, we thought it would be fitting to create a space for collective prayer in remembrance of those special figures in our lives, the motherbirds who have winged their flight to the spiritual realm. We wanted to share the space with others and honour our mothers together, pray for them together, and dedicate each month to hearing a little about the life of one such mother.

Since my sister is in Halifax, Nova Scotia and I am in Ottawa, Ontario, a virtual space was the perfect solution, and the motherbirds that we honour come from both provinces, with guests and family members signing in from all over Canada with both Bahá'ís and friends in attendance. The participants who we do a dedication to each month share photos and other memorabilia as they paint a picture for attendees of their mother's life and person, which then creates such a spirit of love and reverence. We are amazed each time by how moving the contributions of participants are and the palpable sense of unity among us in our experiences and in our love for not just own mothers, but for all the mothers being prayed for whose lives are shared. Participants who are honouring their motherbird that month often invite family and friends who knew her, which adds to the stories and memories being shared.

We feel so fortunate to be undertaking an activity together that brings together souls who are spread out all over the county in a virtual space that is so charged with love and reciprocity. We have remarked that this feeling stays with us for days after, which serves as a very small glimpse of the power of the "most foundational qualities" on which the establishment of a Divine Civilization is to be built, "ones for which the world stands in great need: unity, trustworthiness, mutual support, collaboration, fellow feeling, selflessness, commitment to truth, a sense of responsibility, a thirst to learn, the love of an all-embracing heart" (Universal House of Justice, December 30, 2021).

If you would like to attend or dedicate a Motherbirds devotional to your mother, have your mother's name added to our prayer list or receive the Motherbirds presentation template for Writings selections, songs, and sharing of stories to host your own, please email

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