Friday, August 9, 2013

My Grandmother

I imagine that most people who knew my grandmother knew of the immense time and care she put into her garden. I eventually came to learn that if I was arriving for a visit and the weather was nice, there was little point in ringing the doorbell or knocking on the front door. I knew I might as well head toward the backyard where I would almost certainly find my grandmother bent over her garden, removing what didn’t belong and caring for what did. The love she poured into these plants even extended to our own home in Illinois where we planted what she had shared with us from her own garden.

It seems to me that my grandmother’s gardening was more than a mere hobby. In many ways, it was representative of who she was. It is remarkable to think that even the most beautiful plants have the simplest of beginnings as small and unremarkable, plain and ordinary seeds. But when those seeds are sown and properly cared for, they can blossom into extraordinary expressions of life. Gathered together and ordered into a garden, they can become a place of peace and tranquility; a small reminder of the creative power that God has sown into the fabric of our world.

Such was my grandmother’s life. By the standards of many, my grandmother’s life could be seen as quite plain and unremarkable. She spent much of her days doing small and ordinary things like gardening, cooking, and talking with friends and family; hardly anything that would cause the world to take notice. But in these small and unremarkable acts, my grandmother sowed seeds of grace and peace and hospitality, the very kinds of seeds that blossomed into extraordinary expressions of life in so many of us who knew her.

I think especially of the few times in my adult life when my grandmother and I had the opportunity to sit down and talk together, just her and I, and how those conversations were grace filled occasions. I think of how she was always welcoming people into her home, including me and my friends from seminary, or even the youth group from our church. Teenagers from the church where I pastored still speak to this day of what a kind and gracious person my grandmother was and how glad they were to have had the opportunity to meet her.

I also think of the seeds of faith my grandmother sowed in my own life. She handed down a legacy of faith that came through my mom to me and now continues on in my own three children. As the only grandparent I had the opportunity to know beyond my childhood years, she also continued to be a formative example of faith and holiness for me even into my own adulthood.

My grandmother’s life was like a well ordered and cared for garden. Her presence became a place of peace of and tranquility for so many who came to know her. Her grace and hospitality were small reminders of the creative power that God has sown into the fabric of our world and our humanity. Her life was not unlike the garden described in Genesis as the original act of God’s creation; a place where one might walk with God in the cool of the day. We mourn because the body of that first creation has failed her but we look forward to the day when God’s new creation will fully take root in our world. I imagine that when it does we will once again find her sowing seeds of grace and peace and hospitality for the kingdom of God

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