Sunday, May 23, 2010

Who is your hero?

Recently I was asked who my hero was and why. I'm surprised how much time I have spent pondering over people I know and those I've read about from days gone by. Who is my hero?

I remember being asked this question in High School and at that time not having a distinct hero either. Others seemed to know immediately: an athlete, a philanthropist, our Savior. I could only think of people who "should" be my hero, or someone that would "sound good" to others.

As I have thought about this for two days and sifted through files in my brain, I believe I have decided on an individual who inspires me and emulates the inner-most desires of who I want to become. She was selfless and constantly in the service of others. She devoted her life to bettering others lives and helping those in need. She was never in pursuit of fame and fortune.

She never married. She felt her calling in life was to serve others as a nurse, even when it went against the social expectation of her time. Born in privilege and surrounded by wealth and class, she chose to leave it all behind and follow her heart.

Florence Nightingale.

Known as the "Lady with the Lamp" she tirelessly took care the wounded English soldiers. She donated her own resources in order to better the conditions of Scutari (military hospital); resources she could have used to live a life of comfort back in England.

"She is a ‘ministering angel’ without any exaggeration in these hospitals, and as her slender form glides quietly along each corridor, every poor fellow's face softens with gratitude at the sight of her. When all the medical officers have retired for the night and silence and darkness have settled down upon those miles of prostrate sick, she may be observed alone, with a little lamp in her hand, making her solitary rounds."

Why is she a hero to me? I am married and a mother of six children living a vastly different life.

I have come to realized that as mothers we are continually the "lady with the lamp." We devote our time, talents, even our lives in the service of our families. We refine our skills and donate every resource within us to better the conditions of our homes and enrich the lives of our husbands and children.

In a letter to her sister Florence wrote "God... asked me if I would do good for him alone without reputation."

... without reputation.

Motherhood comes without bonuses, raises, awards, or worldly accolades. It's quiet, in the background, and the reward comes from within. It's in the darkness of the night when we walk the hall with a sick child, comfort a heart that has been broken, or receive a timid wave from across a crowded room, a ball field, or concert.

Florence Nightingale is a hero to me, for even though she never bore children herself she was a mother to tens of thousands. We are all mother's, with or without children. It is in our nature as women to love and care for those around us.

Florence Nightingale is my hero.