For Mothers

One of my favorite books is Elisabeth Elliot’s The Shaping of a Christian Family. In a chapter titled “A Mother is a Chalice” Mrs. Elliot quotes this poignantly beautiful description of motherhood from the novel Kristin Lavrandsatter. Mrs. Elliot writes:

A mother is a chalice, the vessel without which no human being has ever been born. She is created to be a life-bearer, cooperating with her husband and God in the making of a child. What a solemn responsibility. What an unspeakable privilege—a vessel divinely prepared for the Master’s use.

Sigrid Undset, in her great Norwegian novel
Kristin Lavrandsatter, describes a mother, seated at sunset on a hill overlooking her manor house, reflecting on her responsibilities as wife and mother:

She had worked and striven—never till tonight had she known herself how she
had striven to set this manor on its feet and keep it safe—nor all she had
found strength to do and how much she had compassed.

She had taken it as her lot, to be borne patiently and unflinchingly, that all this rested on her shoulders. Even so had she striven to be patient and to hold her head high under the burden her life laid on her, each time she knew she had again a child to bear under her heart—again and again. With each son added to the flock, she had felt more strongly the duty of upholding the welfare and safety of the house—she saw tonight, too, that her power to overlook the whole, her watchfulness, had grown with each new child she had to watch and strive for. Never had she seen so clearly as this evening what fate had craved of her and what it had granted her, in giving her these seven sons. Over again and over again had joy in them quickened the beating of her heart, fear for them pierced it—they were her children, these great lads with their lean angular boys’ bodies, as they had been when they were so small and lump they could scarce hurt themselves when they tumbled in their journeys between the bench and her knee. They were hers, even as they had been when, as she would lift one of them from the cradle up to her breast for milk, she had to hold up its head, because it nodded on the slender neck as a bluebell nods on its stalk. Where they might wander out in the world, whithersoever they might fare, forgetful of their mother, she felt as though for her their life must still be an action of her life, they must still be as one with herself as they had been when she alone in all the world knew of the new life which lay hidden within and drank of her blood and made her cheeks pale. Over again and over again had she proved the sickening sweating terror when she felt: now her time was come again, now again was she to be dragged under in the breakers of travail—till she was borne up again with a new child in her arms; how much richer and stronger and braver with each child, never till tonight had she
understood.

Happy Mother's Day!



2 Responses
  1. Anonymous Says:

    Hi Anne,
    I hope everything was ok with Ben this morning--did he end up just sitting through the service? Thank you for the quote. It reminds me--where should I be for Friday? The kids are looking forward to coming and playing, and I'm looking forward to coming and talking!
    Love,
    Anna


  2. Anne Says:

    Hi Anna -

    Yes, Ben had been with us for the music, and he just sat with us for the rest of the service. I think he was happy to be held for a long time after this crazy week.

    Where are you in the book? I've read through 18 this time, but I'll catch up to where you are if you are further. I'm looking forward to talking Friday, too! Hopefully by then I should have a voice again.
    Love,
    Anne