It was our annual trip to Kentucky to see our granddaughters (better known as the three princesses) perform their dance recital. I, being a former ballet teacher, could not wait. The eight-hour trip seemed to fly by because of the joy that was to come. We always have such a good time with our Louisville family. We, who spent most of our married life in Georgia, don’t do winters, but the warmth and welcoming we receive at our daughter’s and son-in-law’s home seems to keep us cozy. We are always sad to say goodbye, even if the temperature is 48 degrees in May.
Their home is more than a place to house a family who are enjoying life together. It is a training ground to teach their daughters the ways of the Lord; giving them the tools to walk daily in virtue. Their parents take their Catholic faith seriously and are passing it down. Even though their girls are only in elementary school, they live what they believe. Deacon Pat and I always receive more than we give in the area of life lessons. This time was no different.
It was our final evening at their home. The Sunday dance recital was followed by a preview of the variety show performance by our grandchildren and their friends that we were going to miss. Our last day was full but we still made time to stop by their school for their art fair. Lauren, their first grader, was overjoyed to have won a second place ribbon. As the judges placed the ribbon on her picture we all congratulated Lauren and rejoiced as I lead them in a victory dance.
After a late dinner, and a quick game of Heads Up, it was time to rally around another. This time it was the oldest child, Elle. She needed support not for a ribbon, nor for a great job, but for for something not so pleasant. Elle had a wart on her arm and her Dr. Daddy brought home an instrument to freeze it off. The look on Elle’s face told us all that she was afraid. Everyone’s heart went out to her. You know how words just pop out of your mouth when you least expect it? They don’t always make sense but I, being the comedian of the group, rarely have the self-control to be silent. Out of the blue, I looked straight at Lauren who was standing right by Elle’s side consoling her, and said, “Lauren let her bite your arm!” To my surprise, Lauren, with a grin on her face that showed she understood, straightened out her arm and said, “Here Elle, bite it.” The laughter and giggles of all the family members filled the room and offset the tension in Elle’s heart.
As we said our goodbyes to our Kentucky family and began our long trip back to Georgia, I had time to contemplate on what I had learned. These are a few of the life lessons I took home with me.
- We can’t always be brave.
- Sometimes we need to know that we have a friend or sister at our side, who is willing to give their right arm for us.
- A little laughter always works like medicine.
- Lastly, rejoice with those who rejoice, mourn with those who are sorrowful.
It is one thing to know our faith, read all about it, memorize the important parts and tell others to do the same. It is another thing to put actions to those words, and by good example pass our faith down to our children.
With all that I learned that weekend what made the biggest impression on my heart was Lauren extending her arm in love to her sister. It is the year of mercy, who are we willing to give our right arm for? Are we willing to reach out our arms to help a sister, a mother, a friend or a stranger? How far are we willing to extend our heart in love for one in need? If someone falls in a pit do we run to their rescue like the Good Samaritan or do we just walk on by? Do we welcome the stranger or do we keep to our own group and pretend not to notice the tear in the new guy’s eye? What about the poor who are starving? Do we share our food with others like the little boy with the loaves and fishes? Through his small act of kindness Jesus was able to feed the multitudes. Or do we keep all of our treasure for our selves? Are we welcoming to others, like Mary and Martha, extending our home to others in hospitality or are we too busy to care? If we are putting action to the words of our faith, we will find daily opportunities to live our faith.
In this year of mercy ask Jesus to open your eyes and give you the faith to see who you should reach out to. Ask Jesus to open your ears and lead you to those who have no one to listen to them. Then ask Jesus to open your mouth and fill it with words of encouragement for the weary on the journey of life. Ask Jesus to open your heart and let Him fill it with His love. Who will you be willing to give your right arm to if need be?
“Christ has no body now on earth but yours; no hands but yours; no feet but yours. Yours are the eyes through which the compassion of Christ must look out on the world. Yours are the feet with which He is to go about doing good. Yours are the hands with which He is to bless His people.” (attributed to St. Teresa of Avila)