To Be a Blessing – Prayerful Tuesday

Be generous: invest in acts of charity.
Don’t hoard your goods; spread them around.
Be a blessing to others. This could be your last night.
— Ecclesiastes 11:1a, 2, The Message

Mom and Pippin, 1988 bMy Mother 1988
Steven F Austin St. Park, TX
©Ruth Jewell, 2016

A recent meditation had the following journal question “If you knew you were dying what would you write or say to your children or grandchildren?”  That question stopped me cold.  What would I say to grandson and granddaughter, Liam and Amelia?  How would I describe my love, and fears, for them?  How would I tell them of my life lived with my own loves, fears, and regrets? What would I say, what would you say?

During this Easter season I have been writing about the ways we express our feelings of the resurrection, and the many ways we witness to others our faith in the resurrection.  Sharing ourselves with the next generation is also a witness to our beliefs in the resurrection. The question above is an important one, challenging us to inspect our past and present lives and how that information could impact the lives that follow us.  I thought long and hard about what I would, will, say to my grandchildren and all of it wasn’t bright flowers and sunshine.

What might say, well I would of course tell them I love them very much, how grateful I am for having them in my life, and I will miss them.  I would ask for their forgiveness in my part for leaving them a world that is wounded and in pain, and a political system that doesn’t function.  I would tell them that no matter what they do in life their parents and I would always love them from wherever we are.  While their future is impacted by the world I leave behind it is still their future to make into what ever dream they reach for.  Following those dreams may not be easy, or always fun, but are worth the effort if they truly believe in them.  I would also tell them it is OK that they don’t believe in the Divine as I do, but, discovering their own pathway to something greater than themselves is important in finding their moral, loving, compassionate lives.  I would want them to stand up against injustice even when it is hard to do so, to see the good in people and all creation even when the night is darkest.  I want them to climb their most difficult mountains and to not be afraid of the challenges because I will be right there beside them cheering them on. I want my grandchildren to be fearless in the face adversity, to be strong when everyone else is weak, and to be gentle when touched by beauty.

What I want most for my beloved Liam and Amelia is to live a life that is not self-centered but other-centered. I want them to live a life that sees the best in the worst, the beauty in the ugly, and love in what is hatred.  I can’t leave them with much but when I make my final passage from this world to the next I want them to know I cared about them, and want them to be the best at whatever they want to be.

So that is some of what I would tell my grandchildren, what would be in your letter to your children?  We live in and uncertain world and we never know when our last day in this world will arrive.  We all too often leave too much unsaid to those we love the most.  So my journal question to you this week is: “If you knew you were dying what would you write or say to your children or grandchildren?”

May you find the words in your heart for those you leave behind.

Ruth Jewell, ©April 26, 2016

Prepare the Way – Prayerful Tuesday

A New Day is Coming
A New Day is Coming

Matthew 3:3 This is the one of whom the prophet Isaiah spoke when he said, “The voice of one crying out in the wilderness: ‘Prepare the way of the Lord, make his paths straight.’”

Unfortunately I never had children.  However, I have been blessed to be Grammy to my husband John’s two youngest grandchildren.  I remember how excited I was to hear our Daughter-in-Law, Laura, tell us she was pregnant and I could hardly wait to see this new addition to our family.  Liam was born on John’s birthday in 2007 and he is now 7 year old, actually soon to be 8 and is becoming a wonderful young man.

I have been thinking about what it took to prepare for Liam’s arrival.  So many things go into preparing for newborn; baby clothes, blankets, crib, diapers, binkies, blankets, toys, rattles, bottles, booties, the list is endless.  And you can be sure you will forget something in all the hustle bustle of getting ready.

We are in the first week of Advent and I was thinking about what Mary would have done to get ready.  The first thing she would have to do was tell her intended husband she was pregnant and I can only imagine how the conversation went.

“Ah Joseph, I have to tell you something.”

“Yes Mary what is it.”

“Now I want you sit down and listen to what I say, I know it will be hard to understand, I don’t understand myself, but this is the truth.”

“Just tell me Mary, it will be ok.”

“ Weeell, 3 months ago I was visited by an angel of the Lord and he told me that I had been chosen above all other women, to bear the child of the Most High. He said the Holy Spirit would come upon me and, ah, it happened, I’m pregnant.”

Silence.

“ Ah, Mary , you are telling me your pregnant, and it is YHYW’s child. That’s a little hard to believe.”

“I know but, before you do anything, like report me to the temple authorities, just think about it.”

“Ok, I’ll think about it, but this I will tell you the wedding is off but I won’t have you taken before the authorities, I still love you and I don’t want anything to happen to you.”

“You will know what’s best to do Joseph.”

Mary was a teenager, maybe as young as 13 years, and being an unwed mother in the first century was not an acceptable practice. Stoning of the woman was the rule and Mary had every right to be afraid.  She didn’t know what Joseph would do.  She didn’t know that He would be visited by the same angel who would tell him he has nothing to fear.  Mary, like any young woman who finds herself pregnant, was fearful of what could happen to her.  Just preparing to tell those she hoped loved her would be a fearful experience. Her pregnancy would bring shame and humiliation upon her family and Joseph so simply getting the courage to tell of her predicament would take time.  Maybe that is why she went to visit her Cousin Elizabeth to gather the courage to tell her wonderful, terrifying secret.

In the next 4 weeks we too will be preparing.  No we aren’t in Mary’s sandals, but, we have those things that terrify us as we get ready for the celebration the Christ Child’s birth.  We have our own secrets that we keep buried within us. In the last couple of years the racial bias, gender bias, bias against women, poor, and elderly have come out into the open.  All of us, me included, carry some level of all those biases.  It is learning to admit that I, we all, carry fear toward someone different that raises those fears and biases from subconscious to conscious where they light of day can heal them.

Advent is about preparation, it is about hope, it is about faith, it is about love, it is about peace entering where angels fear to tread.  This advent I am taking my fears out of the shadows and finding the way to heal the wounds they cause. Letting the light of hope, faith, and love change them from fear to acceptance.  In prayer, in meditation, and with Advent prayer books I am working, trying hard, to change how I see the world.

What fears, what biases cause you to afraid of someone from a different faith, with a different color skin, is poor, or elderly keeping you from experiencing the amazing peace, hope, faith and love that the presence of the Christ child offers to you?  I invite you to ponder the above scripture this week, to pray about how to prepare your heart for the celebration of the Christ’s birth.

Ruth Jewell, ©December 2, 2014

Walking Home With Amelia

Amelia with her brother Liam and Suzie the Chihuahua
Amelia with her brother Liam and
Suzie, the Chihuahua

 

Amelia is a 5 year old, little girl who is a mixture of tomboy, imp, princess and budding scientist but most of all a Grammy’s delight.  Walking home from school with Amelia is always an adventure.  Today we hadn’t gotten even 100 feet from her school when she bent over and said, “Look Grammy, I found a purple maple seed.”  Amelia hands me the seed and says “now you carry this for me I want to show dad.”  Off she runs to her next exciting stop, which is about 50 feet ahead.  “Look what I can do Grammy,” she said as she runs up a yard to the brick wall and with one heart stopping leap lands safely on the ground in front of me.  “My, my you are so good at jumping,” I said as I pushed my heart back into my chest.

Running ahead of me again she suddenly stops and gets down on her knees, as I walk up to her she is talking to a small ant hill.  “Look how busy they are, Grammy, where are they going so fast?”  “Well,” I tell her, “this is a new ant hill so they are just building it up right now and gathering in some of the leaves for food. Don’t disturb the nest or they will bite.” “Really,” she says as she prepares to test my theory.  “Yes really, and those bites hurt so let’s leave them to their work, OK.”  “Ok,” and she is off again.

“Help me look for snails, Grammy.”  Amelia has a love affair going with snails of every shape and size.  She picks them up and carries them carefully along with her, until, that is, she forgets she has them in the heat of a new discovery and then the snails are old news.  Sometimes she carries them all the way home and we release them into the backyard and into the wild.

Every moment with Amelia is a discovery in a half, every rock a treasure trove, every leaf a rare jewel to be enjoyed. Worms and snails are potential friends or pets to be trained.  We sing songs to stop traffic on our progression across a busy street and she dances down the street to a tune in her head.

Oh the life of a 5 year old, a world of discovery ahead and an imagination that has no boundaries. Where does all of the enthusiasm go to as we grow older?  Is life so trying and stressful that we forget just what it means to be in the moment?  As I watch my little adventurer skip down the sidewalk I am trying to remember what it was like to be that carefree, and find delight in a snail slowly making its way up a wall.

Maybe that is what grandchildren are for, to awaken in each of us that little boy or girl lost in the mists of time.  To remind us of the important things like snails, red leaves, purple maple seeds and sunshine and shadow.  Amelia has reopened a door I thought was shut and locked.  A part of me remembers and dances with my little genius, princess, geologist, archaeologist, biologist, and junk collector as we walk home from school.

Grammy Ruth Jewell, (with Amelia) © June 5, 2014

A Grandma’s Loves

Grandpa, Liam September 2008
Grandpa and Liam
September 2008

 

Today I sat with
Both my loves
Today I held them
In my arms

 One love is soft and warm
A small bundle of wriggling flesh
A ball of laughter
A tiny hand in mine

One love is tall and strong
Wrinkles where once was firm, smooth skin
An intense love that feeds my needs
A gentle love, drawing me to feed his needs

 Both loves are mine
One is new wonder
The other … fine aged wine

Ruth Jewell, © April 29, 2008