As a child we would often travel back to the area of her childhood to visit relatives. Our travels would take us past a place called Shiloh, which marked one of the Civil War’s bloodiest engagements. Mom would walk the ground and talk about “those poor boys who died” in battle far from home. She was mourning for them with a voice bred from countless hours of talk around the hearths of her youth, where she heard the stories from times past when the winds of war swept her people into history. My mother had a long view of life and history. She knew the consequences of choices people make.
My mother’s “long view” also had its drawbacks. At times she would mix emotion into her recollection of history. My wife, a girl born in “the north,” would often catch my mother stretching history to suit her ideas. It often made for some stimulating discussion.
Nonetheless, my mother learned from history, and from her I have a love and appreciation of the subject. I have a photo of my mother that hangs on the wall in our home. I believe it captures the spirit of what I remember about her.
It’s the picture of a young woman in her twenties standing under a tree in full summer bloom. Standing with her feet together and her hands clasped behind her back, she wears a simple one-piece print dress, clean and neat, with a white belt around her waist. A cape falls around her shoulders and a wide-brimmed hat shields her eyes from the sun. A slight breeze is evident by the blown folds of her dress. She is not looking directly at the camera, but is slightly turned and looks beyond, her eyes fixed on a distant point. There is a slight smile on her face.
As I look at this picture, I like to think she is looking with hope and expectation for a life beyond today—for a life promised in the Word of God, a life in His eternal Kingdom for those who develop and hold to the long view of life.