From time to time I want to share about my personal heroes, people who have impacted me in a life changing manner. They are not famous (except to me and the Father) but they are noteworthy in my journey. Some have passed on to glory, some are still living…all are heroes to me.
In this post I would like to start with a dedication to a woman who was a spiritual mom to me. Mary Bonsignore passed away in February 2007 but her legacy lives on in my family. I wrote this after attending her memorial service.
The Passing of Greatness
True greatness, first of all, is a thing of the heart. It is all alive with robust and generous sympathies. It is neither behind its age, nor too far before it. It is up with its age, and ahead of it only just so far as to be able to lead its march. It cannot slumber, for activity is a necessity of its existence. It is no reservoir, but a fountain. - Roswell Dwight Hitchcock
“It's not going to be that way with you. Whoever wants to be great must become a servant. (27) Whoever wants to be first among you must be your slave.” - Matthew 20:2-27 Message Bible
A few hours ago I was at the memorial service of Mary Bonsignore, the mother of my friend Kevin. It was a celebration of a great life, a great woman and a great example of God’s grace. I realize that this newsletter is normally geared towards men and fathering but let me brag about a woman who taught me more about the Father’s gift of grace that anybody I know.
When I became Kevin’s friend I also gained a family, one who welcomed me into the big “warm and fuzzy” place that they called home. In many ways I was the anti-Kevin, the complete opposite of him. He was tall, dark and handsome and I was…well, not so tall, definitely not dark and at least it didn’t cause pain to look at me. He was smooth and confident and I was loud and cocky, but we connected and became deep friends. None of the differences between Mrs. B’s son and me mattered to her, she accepted me exactly as I was. Yet, over the years she encouraged me to grow, seeing more for me in the process. She saw greater things in me than I dared to believe and that vision lifted my own.
Mrs. B was a great woman. The scripture in Matthew above reminds me of her. Not that she desired to be great but that she became so because of her servant’s heart. The Greek word for great used here is “megas” as in our word mega, of course meaning big or large.
She was a megas-mom, a megas-wife and megas-picture of the Father’s heart. The last few years of Mrs. B’s life was challenging, she suffered with many physical attacks on her body. Through it all she remained megas-confident of her Lord’s love for here. Her example of grace in suffering spoke volumes of her trust in the Father’s goodness; it is one of the great thing things she passes on to all of us.
That is what I mean by the title, the Passing of Greatness. Mary saw the “great” in people. She recognized the fingerprints of the Father on people’s lives and pointed it out consistently and graciously. Mrs. B’s 71 years of weaving grace in the fabric of her family and friends impacts generations yet to come. She passes on the vision of a great God who can and will do great things through his people.
How has this affected my own fathering? One of the rules in my house is simple, whoever walks through our door is someone we love or someone we need to love. That way of loving, I learned from Mrs. B and her family. I am a stronger father because of a woman who wasn’t my mom but treated me like a son.
Webster describes greatness this way; a person who has achieved importance or distinction in a field. In the field of loving her husband, loving her children, loving all the people God brought into her world and loving her Lord, Mary Bonsignore fulfilled her call. Thanks Mrs. B…you did great!
“Grace isn't a little prayer you chant before receiving a meal. It's a way to live.”