Therefore, since we are surrounded by so great a cloud of witnesses, let us also lay aside every weight and the sin that clings so closely, and let us run with perseverance the race that is set before us… – Hebrews 12:1
One thing my mum did on Mother’s Day was to bring over some key family photos. She joked about “the evidence of what being your mother has done to me over the years.” But of course the real point is the amazing reach, and scope, and faithfulness, and durability of family.
Family is a lot like a garden. Planting, nurturing, watering, tending, growing. Storms come through, sunshine, drought, gentle rains. Sometimes it’s all about the work, other times it’s the place where you relax and drink tea, or cry, or watch the children play. Always it’s as much about the future as it is the past.
PAST: This first picture (above), the sepia-toned family grouping, is a Maul family classic from March 1959. It’s my auntie Dorothea’s twenty-first birthday, all gathered in the back garden of the family home in Rayleigh, Essex. My brother and I turned five and three respectively that same week. Can you spot me? I’ll tell you where at the end of this post.
The center grouping features my grandpa Fred Maul and grandma Connie, seated with their three daughters – Gladys, Dorothea, and Margaret – standing immediately behind them. My mum – Grace – is on Margaret’s left (our right) with my Dad behind her.
I love photographs like this because they not only mark time, but hold a kind of immortality; there is a sense in which – interacting with the image, and the memory – the people there are all very much alive. It’s a “communion of the saints” thing, and I believe it speaks to the real, substantial, fundamental truth of life beyond life. Not so well described as “life after death” as life beyond life, or life and truth that transcends (far surpasses) the limitations of time, and space, and physicality.
FUTURE: So those two young people at the back of the photograph – David (30) and Grace (27), now our next door neighbors – have six great-grandchildren in the family tree that has branched from their 64 faithful years of marriage. Our daughter Naomi took this photograph of them all down in Florida last week.
I have labelled a few of the key players in the rendition of the 1959 photo posted in the gallery below. And all I can say is a huge “amen” to the following words from Ephesians. – DEREK
For this reason I bow my knees before the Father, from whom every family in heaven and on earth takes its name. I pray that, according to the riches of his glory, he may grant that you all may be strengthened in your inner being with power through his Spirit, and that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith, as you are being rooted and grounded in love. I pray that you may have the power to comprehend, with all the saints, what is the breadth and length and height and depth, and to know the love of Christ that surpasses knowledge, so that you may be filled with all the fullness of God.
Now to him who by the power at work within us is able to accomplish abundantly far more than all we can ask or imagine, to him be glory in the church and in Christ Jesus to all generations, forever and ever. Amen. – Ephesians 3:1-21