“To those who were robbed of life, the unborn, the weak, the sick, the old, during the dark ages of madness, selfishness, lust and greed for which the last decades of the twentieth century are remembered.” —Schaeffer Francis A. & Koop, C. Everett, MD, Whatever Happened to the Human Race? (Fleming H. Revell Company, 1979).
When I think of shadow mentors who inspired me to keep writing, Elizabeth Kubler-Ross, Francis A. Schaeffer, and Henri Nouwen come to mind. Each of them impacted me through their approaches in relating to the world.
Dr. Kubler-Ross wrote her book, On Death and Dying, to discuss some emotional reactions of people who were dying. She referred to her patients as “teachers” so health professionals,
“…may learn more about the final stages of life with all its anxieties, fears, and hopes. I am simply telling the stories of my patients who shared their agonies, their expectations, and their frustrations with us.”—Preface, On Death and Dying, 1969.
Love for people and ministry to them in sensitive experiences in life led to my discovery of my shadow mentor, Henri Nouwen. Henri Nouwen’s books speak of the language of brokenness, compassion, and our place in the heart of God. In his book, The Wounded Healer, Nouwen notes wounded healers are, “the ones who must not only look after their own wounds, but at the same time be prepared to heal the wounds of others.”
We may regard Christian writers who speak into the world with their words as wounded healers. None of us will go through life without permanent scars. Our lives because of our scars will assist us in our service to others. We do not waste our scars.
Dr. Francis A. Schaeffer left his mark on the world with his outspoken defense of the unborn and his rejection of euthanasia. Schaffer offers a thoughtful examination of the West’s destructive assault on human life in his book, Whatever Happened to the Human Race?. The attitudes and practices he warned of in the 1970s show society didn’t listen to his prophetic writings and voice.
Dr. Barrie Palfreyman rounds out my shadow mentors. He mentored me in with his heart for ministry and encouragement. He encouraged me to “take the plunge” in my quest to study for a Master’s degree. Barrie also served as my Seminary academic advisor.
Barrie knew my heart for serving people and sensed my call to chaplaincy. His brief role as my mentor stands as a significant highlight in my life of service to others. Barrie died from cancer only two years after he encouraged me to, “take the plunge.”
In people working their way through life I see the magnificence of God’s precious creation, His masterpiece. When I transitioned from pastoral ministry to chaplaincy my heart for people didn’t miss a beat.
As a chaplain, my greatest honour was to sit by the bedside of a person in their last days, hours, or minutes. What a tremendous privilege to have a person near death to take my hand and smile. This is trust shown on an intimate and humble level.
Each of my shadow mentors helped shape me as a person, a servant of God, and a writer. My shadow mentors remind me we are all unique. As writers, we have our purpose as we make our way through life.
Beloved writer friends, please persevere as you write and send your words into the world. The world needs us. Be open to God placing you in someone’s life as a mentor and see the world change.