A few weeks ago, we celebrated our eldest grandchild’s ninth birthday. In August, we’ll celebrate our youngest grandchild’s first birthday. All of this revelry nudged me into gratitude-mode. When the recent heat and humidity urged me indoors, I decided to relax by enjoying the things for which I’m most grateful. As you likely suspect, my family tops the list. On that particular day, however, my dear husband was otherwise engaged at Wrigley Field (Yes, the Cubs won!) and our kids and grandkids were busy with their Wednesday schedules. So it was that I settled in with the next best thing: our family photo albums.
I began my trek down Memory Lane with our sons’ baby albums. Afterward, I turned to the newer albums which I began nine years ago when we first became grandparents. I admit to tears of joy as I recalled our sons’ arrivals. Photos of our grandkids elicited the same response over which I had no control. I spent two hours flipping between those albums. In the process, I found myself amazed at how often I couldn’t tell the difference between our own sons and at how different each of our grandchildren looks. Even more amazing were my recollections of holding those sons and their offspring as they slept. For me, there is nothing more precious and peace-filled than holding a sleeping baby. Every time, I can’t help swaying as they breathe, back and forth and in sync with their every exhalation. Even today, I often absent-mindedly sway when I stand -a remnant from those loving encounters. As I finally set our albums aside, it occurred to me that I had found such joy in holding those little ones because it was then that I my love for them seemed most tangible. At least for the moments they spent in my arms, I could ensure that all was well in their little worlds.
When I returned to the tasks at hand, I remained in gratitude-mode because the reasons I have to give thanks have grown exponentially. As I cleared my desk to prepare for this writing, I noted another image of a babe in arms. We purchased this bit of artwork from the Sisters of St. Joseph at least a decade ago. It is a small paper sculpture which depicts Isaiah’s reference to our being held in the palm of God’s hand. I admit that this image is as precious to me as those which fill our family albums because I consider myself to be that baby and that hand to be God’s hand. Just as I couldn’t help being absorbed into the rhythm of all of my beloved babies’ breathing, God’s love impels our benevolent Creator to remain in sync with each one of us. It seems to me that this is the reason Jesus persisted in trying to convince us of God’s enduring love and best wishes for us all.
In his gospel (Luke 12:13-21), Luke shares another of Jesus’ parables in this regard. This time, Jesus speaks in great detail of a wealthy farmer: “There was a rich man whose land produced a bountiful harvest. He asked himself, ‘What shall I do, for I do not have space to store my harvest?’ And he said, ‘This is what I shall do: I shall tear down my barns and build larger ones. There I shall store all my grain and other goods and I shall say to myself, ‘Now as for you, you have so many good things stored up for many years, rest, eat, drink, be merry!’ But God said to him, ‘You fool, this night your life will be demanded of you; and the things you have prepared, to whom will they belong?’ Thus will it be for all who store up treasure for themselves but are not rich in what matters to God.’”
The poor rich man didn’t understand that he was what mattered to God. Though the man had likely worked very hard to accumulate his wealth, he seems not to have attended to more important things. Had he taken the time to care for those God had given him to love? Had he taken the time to attend to God? Though I don’t believe that God expects us to remain on bent knees twenty-four seven, I do think that God enjoys being with us. Though we always rest in God’s arms or palm, taking the time to be in sync with God makes the very best of those precious moments. Trust this grandma; I know.
You know, I’m not the only one who has albums of photos of the people I love. Though God may not display hard-copies of you and me somewhere on a heavenly coffee table, rest assured that our images are always before God just the same. God asks that we care about the things that matter because we are happiest when we do so, and nothing is more pleasing to God than seeing us happy. As I said, trust this grandma; I know.
©2016 Mary Penich – All Rights Reserved