Not long ago, a friend asked, “Are those granddaughters of yours tiring you out?” My response was automatic. “Are you kidding?” I love every minute I spend with Ellie, Lauren and Claire. No matter the time of day or the length of our visit, I’m always ready for more. Though fatigue occasionally sets in, this occurs only on the drive home from Naperville or afterward when I crawl into bed for the night. The truth is that I can’t get enough of these little girls in spite of my admission that, like their grandma, the girls aren’t perfect.
During our visit a few weeks ago, I sent Lauren to the corner for a minor but not-to-be-repeated infraction. Lauren cried for the entire two minutes of her banishment, uttering several times, “I don’t want to be in the corner.” Though I sympathized with the poor little thing, I offered her no reprieve. She has to learn that she cannot hit her sister. The first thing Lauren did upon her release was to run to her sister to say, “I sorry, Ellie.” Later, Ellie shook her finger at Lauren and ordered, “No! No! No!” when Lauren tried to share the building blocks. I lost no time explaining to Ellie that there were plenty of blocks for all of us. As little Claire watched her older sisters, I imagined the day when Grandpa or I will have to say “no” to her for the first time. As is the case with Ellie and Lauren, it won’t matter. Though these little troubles will continue to come and go, Grandpa and I love our granddaughters. We always have and we always will. Their generous gifts of smiles and hugs suggest that the feeling is mutual.
I share this Grandma Adventure with you today because it speaks to the Lenten Journey that we’ve just begun. Though we usually think of these forty days as a time of penance and contrition, there is far more to this most sacred time of year. While we all have reason to feel regret and remorse, we also have reason to rejoice. In all that he said and did for us, Jesus made it crystal clear that we are loved and cared for by our gracious, forgiving, merciful and loving God. Jesus celebrated this reality on numerous occasions when he stole away to spend quiet time in conversation with his Father. Jesus did the same in the relationships that he shared with his closest disciples and with all whom he met along the way. Jesus’ great love for people was no accident. Indeed, Jesus personified God’s unquenchable love for each one of us every hour of every day that he walked among us.
When our older son Mike was born, I received a glimpse of God’s love. I couldn’t imagine loving anyone more than I loved that little boy. When we discovered that Tim was on the way, I wondered if I could love another child as much as I loved Mike. When Tim arrived, I answered my own question with a resounding “Yes!” Ellie, Lauren and Claire draw more love from me than I thought I had to give. If my humble heart can love so completely, is it any wonder that God’s love has left humankind awestruck from the beginning of time?
During Lent, we take Jesus’ message regarding God’s love to heart. Whatever we choose to do draws our attention back to the reason for this season. Whatever we choose to do calls us to make the time to savor God’s love and to deepen our relationships with God and with one another. If I choose not to eat between meals, every pang of hunger calls me to spend those hungry moments in prayer. If I choose to be more patient, the first twinge of anger calls me to see my adversary with God’s loving eyes and to pray for him or her. If I choose to set aside my coffee money to feed the poor, every dollar saved invites me to pray for those who’ll eat the bread my offering provides. If I choose to rise above my loneliness, every tear of self-pity brings to mind the droplets of blood that poured down Jesus’ face in the garden. Surely, I’m not as lonely as Jesus felt that night. Surely, I can overcome my loneliness by finding someone with whom to share God’s love. If I choose simply to survive another day because that’s all my illness will allow, every morning calls me to hold tightly to God’s hand as I make my way. However you and I spend this Lent, we must take every opportunity to acknowledge God’s amazing love for us and to share it generously with those we’ve been given to love.
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