I never know what I am going to wake up thinking about. Doesn’t it seem sometimes that sleep acts as a clearinghouse for your thoughts? Still, I don’t know how I go to bed thinking of ‘A’ at night, and wake thinking of ‘B’ or even ‘X’ or ‘Y’.
This morning, my thoughts turned quickly to Winston Churchill. Why? I guess because I had been pondering ordinariness. Now Churchill himself was hardly ordinary. As a matter of fact, I think he is often called the greatest figure of the twentieth century. But I was thinking of the juxtaposition of the ‘great’ and the ‘ordinary’ you so often see in biography, or in life, for that matter.
Churchill’s parents were singularly inattentive and dismissive of him while he was young. So, in this emotional and relational gap stood – his nanny! Her name was Elizabeth Anne Everest and, from all I have read, she was a devout and stalwart Christian who saw her nannying as mission. It was with Mrs. Everest that young Churchill
“…sang the great hymns of the faith, spoke of the heroes of the faith, and imagined aloud about what Jesus might look like or how heaven would be”
Without a doubt, Churchill learned almost of all he knew of biblical Christianity from his nanny. And, also, without a doubt, he drew on this vibrant worldview during the Second World War as he spoke of the clash of Christian civilization with ‘barbarous paganism’, and found the courage to not only oppose it himself, but inspire others to do so.
I don’t think it is possible to begin to understand the social history of the privileged classes of Victorian and Edwardian English society without understanding that it was the lower middle class that was raising their children. And they were the class that had most heartily embraced the Methodist revivals of the eighteenth century. They were the guardians of biblical truth and morality.
Isn’t that interesting?
I have heard that the only photograph on Churchill’s bedside table as he lay dying was that of Mrs. Everest. I wonder whether that was so? It would certainly make sense…