We know that all things work together for good for those who love God, who are called according to his purpose. —Romans8:28 (nrsv)
Third Sunday in Advent: Good Reclaimed
When my grandmother died, her living space had shrunk to a bare kitchenette decorated with a few photos. She was ninety-five—a perky woman, well-loved at the school where she’d volunteered before osteoporosis crippled her. Teachers converged on her funeral. One, a young man who’d visited regularly, sobbed. I didn’t attend—an act of neglect I still regret.
Here’s my rationalization: People should visit the housebound while they’re alive; after they die, it’s too late.
But I rarely visited her. Rarely phoned. Rarely communicated beyond the Christmas cards I used to make. When my daughters got older and Christmas became more frantic, I stopped even that minimal contact.
After the funeral, my dad sent me the cards I’d mailed her from grad school in New Orleans; from Berlin, Beijing, Hong Kong; from Oklahoma, when my girls were little. When I saw them, I, too, cried.
My most vivid memory of her is that empty room. It looked as though she’d just moved in, so spare were her quarters. No bookshelves. No messy side table or magazine rack. Her life was bed, then chair, then bed. Nevertheless, she carted those old homemade cards around with her from apartment to apartment, Christmas to Christmas, until her death.
Can good be reclaimed from our mistakes? That is my hope—that, opening one of those bright envelopes, my grandmother felt loved.
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