Recently, I met with a woman in my office who shared her present situation and it left me without words for comfort.
Instead, I sat receiving her story, allowing the Presence of God to guide the way.
As she shared the memory of a tragedy that took place nine years ago, she still spoke of her faith in God.
She spoke with gratitude for how she was raised because God roots were planted long ago. She was grateful for her parents exposing her to church inside and out. She was grateful on Sundays, hymns and words and receiving bread and wine became a part of her cell memories.
She was grateful her dad volunteered with gardening and church maintenance when there were Saturday work parties and he took her with him. She was grateful her mom volunteered with the Altar Guild and she took her with her.
As her story ended and tears had stopped flowing, I got up and retrieved two holding crosses.
I took one out of its mesh bag and gave it to her to hold. She wrapped her fingers around it and looked at me.
She said recently she felt the need to hold onto something and here she was, holding onto a rounded wooden cross.
I offered to bless the one she was holding and held the other, the one she would be giving to her 19 year old daughter. I prayed aloud that as she held onto the wooden cross she would continue to believe God was holding onto her and all she held in her heart.
After she left my office, I realized how grateful I was for the witness of faith and of love of my own parents.
I relived a few cherished memories. And I have come to know, especially as I listen to the stories of others, that the power of memory and the healing power of love influences how we live the present. Past events and people make an imprint…whether for good or harm.
At the funeral pf Prime Minister Yitzhak Rabin of Israel on November 6, 1995, the personal pain of family momentarily eclipsed the national tragedy when his granddaughter, seventeen year old Noa Ben-Artzi spoke:
“People greater than I have already eulogized you, but none of them were fortunate like myself to feel the caress of your warm, soft hands and the warm embrace that was just for us.” The power of touch lasts…whether for good or harm.
One afternoon, Paul Schenk and his young son, Peter, planted bulbs in their garden. Halfway through the project, the tired father nearly said he’d be glad when they were finished. Then memories of an afternoon long ago with his dad floated back in and stopped him.
Schenk’s father, Bill, once helped him with basement renovations.
After working a while, he commented that he’d be glad when they were finished. His father replied that he and a co-worker had once spent an entire day testing hundreds of parts for a NASA contract and he, too, had said that he’d be glad when they were finished. But his co-worker responded, “Have you been testing transistors, Bill? I’m helping to send a man to the moon.”
Bill Schenk then asked his son, “Have you been putting up corner molding in the basement? I have been spending the morning with my son.”
Savor the little moments you share with loved ones.
It is often then that life’s true beauty is revealed. Let yourself trust ever more that God is holding you and everything you hold in your heart. But especially trust when you are holding the hand of another, love is making a lasting impression.
We are the instrument and power for God’s healing. The simplest gesture can turn a moment around.
Hold on tightly to God. Hold on tightly to those you love but allow yourselves to let go of anything holding on to you in a suffocating way.
As this season of falls breaks upon us with falling leaves and turning colors, may you let fall away all that holds you back from being a light that is meant to shine, a loving person that can bring joy or goodness to another.
Remember, the power of memory and the healing power of love influences how we live the present.
The Rev. Paula Vukmanic is rector of St. Francis Episcopal Church