Excerpted by Ken Green from Frank Schaeffer’s blog on Patheos:
My mother Edith Schaeffer died today. She . . . completed a dramatic life with a final flourish: she died on Easter Saturday, to join her risen Lord . . . I trust my mother’s hope-filled view of death because of the way Mom lived her life . . . Mom was a wonderful paradox: an evangelical conservative fundamentalist who treated people as if she was an all-forgiving progressive liberal of the most tolerant variety.
Mom’s daily life was a rebuke and contradiction to people who see everything as black and white. Liberals and secularists alike who make smug disparaging declarations about “all those evangelicals” would see their fondest prejudices founder upon the reality of my mother’s compassion, cultural literacy and loving energy.
. . . Here’s what my mother showed me how to do by example: forgive, ask for forgiveness, cook, paint, build, garden, draw, read, keep house well, travel, love Italy, love God, love New York City, love Shakespeare, love Dickens, love Steinbeck, love Jesus, love silence, love people more than things, love community and put career and money last in my hierarchy of values and — above all, to love beauty. I still follow my mother’s example as best I can and I have passed and am passing her life gift to my children and grandchildren not just in words but in meals cooked, gardens kept, houses built, promises kept, sacrifices made, and beauty pointed to.
. . . Mom treated everyone she ever met well, spent more time talking to “nobodies” than to the rich and famous who flocked to her after her books were published and became bestsellers. Put it this way: through my experience of being a father (of 3) and grandfather (of 4) I’ve finally been able to test Mom’s life wisdom and spiritual outlook and found out that she was right: Love, Continuity, Beauty, Forgiveness, Art, Life and loving a loving all-forgiving God really are the only things that matter.
. . . Memories: Mother never making a sarcastic remark about her children or anyone else and the life-long self-confidence that gave me . . . Mother deep in conversation with cab drivers and giving her books away (and money, personal phone numbers and her home address) to hotel maids and other total strangers she decided she could help . . . Mother’s horror at the “harshness” as she put it, of so many evangelical religious people and the way they treated “the lost” and her saying that “no wonder no one wants to be a Christian if that’s how we treat people!”
Maybe everything has changed for me theologically but some things haven’t changed. I’m still thinking of Mom’s eternal life in her terms because she showed me the way to that hope through her humane consistency and won. Her example defeated my cynicism . . . I’ll miss her voice. I learned to trust that voice because of the life witness that backed it up. I know I’ll hear her voice again. You won Mom. I believe.
(Frank Schaeffer, excerpted from “Goodbye, Mom . . . RIP” in his internet column “Why I Still Talk to Jesus–In Spite of Everything,” distributed by Patheos network.)