looking through me

Tag: presence

pre-thanksgiving . . . grief and gratitude

It’s November and the weather is catching up to the season. With the flip of the calendar and the chill in the air, my thoughts drift toward the holidays.

At work I write copy for our Christmas campaign with a sense of relief that I can skip ahead to December. I’ve never been excited to rush through the eleventh month to get to the twelfth month—not once. I fight the too-early arrival of Christmas each year . . .

But today I welcomed it.

Because when I picture my family we are gathered around my grandparents’ dining room table on the last Thursday of November. And I’m unable to imagine my favorite day without my grandma. It’s been years since she candied the yams or we celebrated at their house; but even as our traditions morphed, we were together. This year we’ll be missing our matriarch, and I can’t wrap my heart around the hole.

Maybe it would be easier if we’d had a holiday or two to practice being present in her absence, but we haven’t. Our first big family day since she stepped heavenward will be Thanksgiving. And the incongruity of gratitude and loss hounds me.

Each day of this new normal I notice more ways I miss Grandma: her smile, her grace, her one-liners, her joy, her ability to temper our rough edges with a look, a word or simply her presence. She was the filter through whom we saw one another. I am grateful. And I grieve.

So I relish the temperature change and the crisp pleasure of today—laden with memories of the past—as I put off the future. The griefs will arrive in due time; they can neither be rushed nor postponed.

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love

Love.

Love steps up and steps in. Love is present.

Love is Dad holding my hair out of my face while the flu empties my stomach.

Love is the eldest carrying me down a dusty mountain road.

Love is the middle driving 275 miles so I won’t be alone in the desert on my birthday.

Love is Mom waking up early to bake my favorite coffee cake for every special occasion.

Love walks alongside. Love joins in. Love gets messy. Love sacrifices. Love stays.

Love lives in the action verbs.

Interesting . . . love has yet to speak. It can. It does. But words are trivial if not anchored in action.

God is love. Jesus—God with us—the Word made flesh came as love incarnate. Jesus loved when He wept—when He grieved the loss of His friend—just as much as He loved when He restored life and removed the reason to mourn. Love cried. Love worked. The Word is love. The Word is life. Words of love are words of life.

The affirmation spoken out of life-tested relationship: love.

The note to the friend far away: love.

The shared meal: love

Showing up to the wedding, the funeral, the everyday: love.

The doing, the being, the speaking—all of it—spills love into life. The memories of love may have a soundtrack or be silent, but they have action shot after action shot after action shot.

Love is present. Love is active. Love does.

God does. God is active. God is present.

 

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