Tuesday, May 14, 2013

The Influence of Children - Eleanor Shepherd

 Dallas Willard, who was a great teacher of spiritual formation passed away this week.  As we say in The Salvation Army, he was promoted to Glory.  It was just a few days before Mother's Day.  I read in a tribute to him written by John Ortberg in Christianity Today that the mother of Dallas Willard died when he was only two years old.  Her dying wish must have been fulfilled as her last words to her husband were: "Keep eternity before the children." Evidence that he did so, is seen in the biography of her son, Dallas.

The timing of this story is quite incredible.  After living a life that demonstrated the influence of his mother's desire for him, Dallas Willard entered forever into eternity just a few days before Mother's Day.  How fitting.

As I have been scrolling through Facebook this week, during my travels, I have seen so many express gratitude for the influence of their mothers.  I have never noticed before such a widespread changing of profile pictures as adult children post photos of their mothers.  I was thrilled to see the faces of some of my friends who went to Heaven several years ago.  I see proof that their influence lives on in the lives of their children.

This year, circumstances prevent me from being with my children on Mother's Day, yet this week I have had the privilege of special intimate moments with each of them.  I had to be in Toronto for some meetings at the end of the week.  My son, graciously provided me with a place to stay at his apartment.  We were able to do some very ordinary things together.  It seems like when there is unhurried time just to do household tasks and chat together, we realize the joy there is in our relationship.  John even shared his animals with me, his dog sharing my bed and his cats sleeping on the floor beside me.  I felt so at home in his home.  Then after I left I received a text message from him thanking me for the food I bought to fatten his larder.  I loved his gratitude.  What more could a mother ask to celebrate Mother's Day.

Then on the way home on the train, I received a lovely email from my daughter expressing her gratitude for what my husband and I have been able to do for her and her husband and little daughter, since they moved to the city where we live.  I wrote back to remind her what she is now learning herself as a mother.  There is nothing that is too much when it comes to doing something for our children.  Nevertheless her gratitude was a beautiful gift she too offered to me.

It is true that mothers are able to have a great influence on their children.  However it seems to me equally true that children have the unique ability to draw forth from us as mothers qualities like nobility, gentleness, kindness and unselfishness.  I know that I am a better person because of what my children have needed and expected from me and I am grateful that they have given me opportunities to nurture these virtues in my developing character.

As a mother, my children have also taught me that I do not have within me enough nobility or gentleness, or kindness or unselfishness to be the person they want me to be.  However,  when I read the story of a life like that of Dallas Willard, or a hundred other Heros of the Faith, I am reminded that the resources are avialable to me to approach more and more those lofty ambitions I have to be a mother who makes a positive difference in the lives of her children.  When I keep eternity before my eyes and reach for help from He who fills eternity with His loving presence, I can bask fully in the joy and gratitude of my children.
Word Guild Award
Word Guild Award

1 comment:

Peter Black said...

Thank you Eleanor for your words in tribute to Dallas Willard -- a remarkable Christian gentleman, and also your anecdotal insights as a mother. What a lovely family, and beautiful pics! ~~+~~

Popular Posts