It’s another day of pulling up Google Maps and calculating 29 minutes to Grandma’s little apartment, buzzing the intercom and creeping upstairs, finding the key and tiptoeing inside to the grayish apartment building, just before the sun finds the cracks in the shades and golden light comes peaking in.
She has so much to praise about. She read last week, Will the dust praise you? Will it tell of your faithfulness? No, it is the living, breathing moving lungs that praise. And yet, so often she doesn’t. She wishes, more than anything, that she could feel God more than she does. That she would feel Him, know His love, love His people, love His will and His word and everything He is. She wishes she could praise Him more fully without being so distracted and without checking her phone so much or mentally planning her to-do list.
This weekend she drove 2.5 hours to her Hannah-girl’s house. As she passed fields and trucks and people in a blur, she listened to Tim talk about time and how redeeming the time really means making most of each opportunity. She sees that she is often so eager to wait for something big, that those quiet, precious, never-coming-back-to-you moments are snatched away. She wants to love better. She wants to quiet her heart and listen and have that selfless, giving heart that her mother has.
This week, she’s praising God for Hannah-girl. Hannah-girl, who has 6 kiddos under her, but she takes time for them all. She was one of the first ones up in the morning, playing with little Abby. She made dutch babies, thick and soft and buttery. She makes forts and paints and washes dishes and sands her father’s cars. Love looks a lot like ordinary faithfulness most days. And there is a lot of Hannah-girl’s love to learn from.
This week, she’s praising God for Teddy-boy. He’s away right now, and she doesn’t talk to him much. But his faith inspires her and moves her and convicts her to love God and people more. He’s good at seeing people – calling them out in a good way and making them feel noticed and special. Often, her tongue ties itself behind the door of shame and fear and things are not said that should be said. She wants to love out loud like Teddy-boy.
This week, she’s praising God for lilacs. There is a huge bouquet of them on the kitchen table and every time she opens the apartment door and comes inside, the overwhelming aroma of lilac perfume meets her and welcomes her in. They’re such a simple, elegant, beautiful flower. Where would she be without them?
She stops her writing for a moment and watches Grandmother’s face from across the room. Grandmother sits in her soft pillowy chair, asleep, and she must be dreaming, for her face nods and twitches and moves from time to time. This morning, Grandmother lay in bed and talked about her dreams, and about Tony and Jose and Nick and Giovanni (her 4 boys), and the “evolution” of family. How they grow up, marry, have kids. Then the kids grow up, marry and have kids and the parents move themselves, for they cannot always take care of themselves. There is something so beautiful about how God created family like that. He knew that it would not be good for man to be alone. He made a helper. He knew of the goodness of the land being taken over and so he said children are very good. He knew that parents would grow old and feeble and so he said they ought to be honored always. He knew that men would die and leave their wives and children, and so he said that He would be a father to those children and a husband to those widows.
There are airplanes sounds outside and the incessant buzzing of the fan above her. When she came into the room today, Grandmother’s face lit up and she said, “oh, you looks nice”. I like your shawl.” It is a kimono and it’s light and floral and she’s happy Grandmother likes it. To be complimented on your style by Grandmother is high praise indeed, for Grandmother is a fashion queen and always made her own clothes or altered them. She always bought striking colors and prints that made you look. There will always be the memory of Grandmother moving her long quiet fingernails over a piece of fabric, explaining the material and how it fits and then quietly snipping – so very precisely. Grandmother has always been precise. She would clean like no other, finding dust in the most unassuming places, and even this morning, she picked the most minute piece of fluff off of her blanket and quietly deposited it into a garbage can, looking very pleased with herself while doing so. Grandma has eagle eyes and notices everything.
God doesn’t promise you that your life will be easy or that you or your loved ones will die without pain. He doesn’t promise wealth or a Mr.Darcy-type husband, or any husband at all for that matter. He doesn’t promise you children or freedom from pain or tyranny. He doesn’t promise us long life or untroubled waters or that all of our dreams will come true. It is our failing when we expect these things – when we don’t get a husband or children and instead we get pain and disappointment. Life becomes burdensome when it all depends on us and our expected happiness is dashed to the rocks. Praise is not dependent on everything first turning out alright – would it even been praise then? “Let the bones that you have broken rejoice”.
Bones, broken or not, must praise and rejoice.