Monday, March 22, 2010

Reflect, Refract, Retreat, Repeat

     The other evening I went to visit my grandma at St. Joseph’s Little Sisters of the Poor. My mom was already there when I arrived. My grandmother, who I call Gram, was delighted to see me, as she always is. It’s so nice to walk in a room and see someone’s face light up just because you’re there. I didn’t bring her flowers, a card, or even a used book I thought she might like to read. I just showed up.
     Gram asked me the usual questions, genuinely interested in my answers. She already knew some of what my week had been like since my mom visits her every evening and catches her up on what’s going on with the family.      Looking around her room, I smiled at the fresh flowers my mom had brought from her garden and put in a vase. My mom has taped up pictures of my grandma when she was younger on the inside of the door to her room. I knew the books on the table next to the recliner where I was sitting were most likely ones my mom had brought to my grandma, who is also both a prayer warrior and a voracious reader. Framed pictures are placed around the room of people who Gram loves and who love her.
     My grandma still amazes me. At 87, after being through so much physically, spiritually, and emotionally over the years, she still takes joy in attending Mass every day, playing games of bridge, watching golf on TV, visiting with friends and family, reading, spending time outside, watching movies, eating out, discussing current events, and being involved in the 40 Days for Life movement by offering her prayers from the nursing home. She’s made many friends at Little Sisters because of her friendliness and concern for others. She takes joy in the simple things.
     While I was sitting there visiting with the two women who have taught me so much about love, friendship, kindness, and caring for others, I noticed a small framed cross-stitch next to my Gram’s TV. I recognized it as one I’d made for her at least four or five years ago. Next to a flower, I stitched, “Those who bring sunshine to the lives of others cannot keep it from themselves.” I found it ironically uplifting to see one of the handmade gifts I’d given my grandma in a spot where she’d see it every day.
     I’d been feeling guilty about not visiting her recently or even sending her a card, yet right in a prominent place was a reminder of the influence she’s had on my life. Sometimes it’s nice to know that the love and encouragement from others continues long after the visit is over, even when no cards come in the mail, even when the only times we see their faces are when we close our eyes to pray.
     Lord, please help us see, acknowledge, respect, and reflect Your light in others, Your light in ourselves. Teach us to have an attitude of gratitude for the people in our lives who have given us so much love, taught us so many lessons, and ultimately brought us closer to You. Amen.
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