Saturday, August 01, 2015

Why Must I Write? - Eleanor Shepherd

The question keeps coming back to me.  Why do I feel that I have to write?  My life is full enough with my pastoral responsibilities, being a Grandma and encouraging my husband and children, as well as practising a robust prayer life.  So why then do I feel that I must write?
Is it just so that there will be something tangible that I am able to leave behind after I am gone?  Perhaps.  But I think it is more than that.           As I was chatting the other day with my husband about the kind of writer that I want to be, I discovered a clue about why this desire consumes me.  I must write, because the writing of someone else changed my life.
It was when I was in my twenties.  I was expecting my first child.  One day, in the seventh month of my pregnancy I was overcome with excruciating pain that would not go away.  At first my doctor thought that it might be a urinary tract infection, but when treating that did nothing to relieve the pain, another alternative had to be considered.  The pain seemed to focus a little more on the right side, although it was difficult to tell with the baby constantly moving about.
The surgeon’s hunch was that it must be my appendix, so an emergency appendectomy was arranged.  However, it was too late.  By the time he operated, the appendix had burst and infection was filling my abdominal cavity.  We feared the danger this posed for the baby.  However, miraculously, the infection sealed itself off into one pocket and did not spread throughout my system.  I am certain that this was an answer to the prayers of those who were upholding me.  With all the stress of this event the contractions began and I feared that our child would be born and not be ready to survive outside the womb.
Amazingly the medication that I was given stopped the contractions and while I lay in bed
waiting for things to calm down enough for me to resume life and wait for the anticipated due date for the baby, I had time to read.  Someone had given me a copy of Catherine Marshall’s book Beyond Ourselves.  As I read, I felt that the book had been written just for me.  She seemed to know some of the questions that I was turning over in my mind.  She did not offer any kind of superficial responses but she kept pressing back to the questions behind the questions to the roots of issues and I was with her all the way.
As I worked my way through Beyond Ourselves, I found that I was not reading the book, I was experiencing it.  There were so many times when I found myself slipping imperceptivity from reading into praying.  Catherine Marshall was becoming my spiritual director and counsellor.  Actually it was she who taught me that my real teacher was the Holy Spirit.  That lesson has remained with me throughout my life.  It was also she who rekindled the dream that I had buried, because of the criticism of a professor.
 The dream was to write and when I experienced Catherine Marshall’s books, particularly Beyond Ourselves and a little later Something More, I knew that I wanted to be like her.  I wanted to write in a way that would help people on their own spiritual journey to discover that God was with them and they had nothing to fear.  That was why my own first book, More Questions than Answers was about spiritual accompaniment.  If I can help someone the way that Catherine Marshall helped me, then my dream will be fulfilled.

Word Guild Award
Word Guild Award

Eleanor Shepherd is an award winning author and is currently serving as the pastor of a Salvation Army congregation in Montreal.


Peter Black said...

What a wonderful testimony, Eleanor! It seems that powerful, poignant testimonies often arise from a painful experience in which God's grace is brought forward. Thank you for sharing these elements of your writing and spiritual journey. ~~+~~

fudge4ever said...

What a great story, Eleanor! I love hearing about people's experiences and how they turned out for something good and beautiful.
Pam Mytroen

Glynis said...

What an encouragement, Eleanor. I actually remember reading Catherine Marshall's books.

It certainly is a blessing and a reminder about how words can be so powerful. God's good and perfect gifts are priceless. Nice post.

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