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Shalom, My Son

December 4, 2012

Twenty-five years ago at approximately 8:30 a.m., I stood at the top of the stairs in my bluff side home in Austin, Texas, after experiencing an unmistakeable body cue that only women can know.  Arm on hip, resolved and ready, I called out to my husband Lionel, who was making our morning tea:  “Well, this is it!”

And three and a half hours later I was initiated into the esteemed yet inclusive, eternal and worldwide sorority of Motherhood. I was 36 years old.

Nelson Beckett Berry rocked my world.

beckett with syringe

He still does.

nelson emoting

I knew nothing about birthing or rearing babies. (OB floor nurse to Eve, 48 (!) hours after Nelson arrived:  “When are you leaving?  This isn’t the Holiday Inn, you know!”

Truth be known, I was afraid to go home. How would I figure it all out? How could a work-obsessed and domestically challenged, early middle-aged mother transform, swanlike, into the wise and nurturing mother this tiny human both needed and deserved?

But God had my back. He had given me my husband Lionel and a flock of unseen angels to guard and guide us. And whatever life threw at us ~ Lionel’s death seven years later;  followed by the unspeakable tragedy of the suicide of Nelson’s  20 year old half brother, Lionel’s adopted son; the move from Texas back home to Tennessee; the precarious balancing act of making a living and making a home as a single mom ~ it was always perfectly clear that God held us both in the palm of his hand.

Never was a saddened child more richly blessed, from extraordinary schools (St. Andrews in Austin, St. Paul’s  and Montgomery mba campusBell Academy [MBA] in Nashville) and wise. loving counselors (David Thomas, Melissa Trevathan, Sissy Goff, Jeremy Shapiro and others) at Daystar Counseling Ministries; to the leaders of Nashville’s great BSA Troop 87, who encouraged and supported him from Tenderfoot to Eagle Scout; to God’s handpicked stepfather Eddie Settles. Eddie came into our lives when Nelson, at 14, most needed a strong and godly man to teach him.

It was hard not to spoil him. We had wonderful adventures, the two of us, during those years from 7 to 14.

nelson as groucho

But the loss we both felt was vast and groaning. Nelson’s battered heart and soul matured beyond his years.

We longed for shalom (although I didn’t then know the full meaning of the familiar Hebrew word).

Shalom, a term used by Jews in greeting and goodbyes throughout the ages, is commonly understood to mean “peace” or “peace be with you.” But shalom, defined here, has a much richer meaning. “Shalom!” is both a blessing and dream for a life that is whole and full, in a world where things are as they should be. Shalom is a foretaste of heaven.

Nelson and I have frequently referred to  our current culture  as “Upside-down World.”  It is a place where ethics scholars cheat, where esteemed utilitarian philosophers say it’s okay to murder children up to two years after birth, where living together is the default pre-marital state, Christians are  called “haters” for holding to their beliefs, and truth is whatever you wish it to be. In Upside-down World, tolerance means there are no universally held moral standards, schoolchildren are taught that Americans are  the bad guys, and  the poor are permanently enslaved by making them dependent on government handouts. The pillars of American society: religious freedom, freedom of speech, capitalism,  the rule of law, private property rights, and the opportunity to make your own way without government oppression ~ are crumbling beneath us. And the band plays on.

To be fair, the above words are mine, not Nelson’s. While more conservative than most of his peers, at 25 he is still refining the clay of his worldview. I won’t presume to put words into his mouth. But he is a man who honors and exemplifies traditional values. Andnelson grad pipe as a teacher at MBA, he is helping to shape boys into responsible men of honor and integrity. This is a good man. (He will even forgive me for embarrassing him with this very public declaration of my love.) I could not be more proud.

All parents want a good life for their children. What “the Good Life” means for me, thanks to Chuck Colson and my Centurions training, is a life of shalom, in which things are as they should be: where people live in peace with God and all humanity, living into His image, neighbor loving neighbor.

Happy birthday and shalom, Nelson. May you know a world that rights itself. May God lift you up on eagles’ wings and continue to hold you in the palm of his hand.

Love from Mom

2 Comments leave one →
  1. Travis Lewis permalink
    December 4, 2012 9:25 pm

    Wonderful article, Eve. Thanks for sharing it with us. Shalom to you and yours! Travis Lewis, C3

    Travis Lewis Lexington, TN

    • December 4, 2012 9:33 pm

      You are very kind, Travis. Great to hear from you. Hope all is well in your world. Shalom!

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