After my surgery, in my convalescence, I pulled out some of Mayme Wills’ books – one was her prayer book, one she gave my aunt re-gifted to me in high school, The Catholic Girls Guide and another, The Imitation of Christ by Thomas A Kempis.
I remember reading in The Catholic Girls Guide that how we are at home is who we truly are, not who we are out in public. As a teenager, that message stopped me in my tracks, settled deeply and still speaks to me today.
This woman, though, Mayme, who died when I was around 3, she left messages for me in penciled brackets around passages in her books – this week particularly, messages in The Imitation of Christ:
Some were, “Me, too! Me, too! I believe that way, too” messages:
“Vanity of vanities and all is vanity, except to love God and serve him alone” (Thomas A Kempis, The Imitation of Christ: thoughts Helpful in the Life of the Soul)
I thought about the journey that it has taken to understand that. That somehow I was walking on the same journey path as my great-grandmother, that we were discovering the same things about the Father – what a hope for my children’s children.
In the chapter “Value of Adversity,” she highlights, “Then he [me and you] understands fully that perfect security and complete peace cannot be found on this earth.”</
She raised 4 children, through WWI, the Great Depression and WWI – Our challenges are different but that she lived joy, hope and faith in those challenges, understanding that life is not always pretty that it is always about trust in Him – it is that kind of faith that is an inheritance, not just found in brackets in a book, found today in my choices and my heart.
“But God has so ordained, that we may learn to bear with one another’s burdens, for there is no man without fault, no man without burden, no man sufficient to himself or wise enough” (The Imitation of Christ: Bearing with the Faults of Others)
I think she understood forgiveness, that no man is perfect and that we don’t know it all. Recognizing her own imperfections, I bet she crossed that Forgiveness Bridge to live Forgiveness like a Phoenix. I know recognizing my own faults, my own imperfections has taught me much about forgiveness, too.
“Try to live now in such a manner that at the moment of death you may be glad rather than fearful” (She underlined glad)(The Imitation of Christ: Thoughts on Death).
All I can say is that the older I get, the more I understand that gladness – and she understood it, grabbed it enough to grab a pencil and underscore it so that those left behind could understand her peace, her joy to go to one day pack up her bags and make that journey to cross over to the other side, the heaven-side with the Father.
But this week, this week I needed the next message in a bracket – when sometimes our love is lost in translation and people who you think ought to know your heart better, don’t – well, my great-grandmother reminded me:
“We should enjoy much peace if we did not concern ourselves with what others say and do, for these are no concern of ours”(The Imitation of Christ: Acquiring Peace and Zeal for Perfection)
Mayme planted faith seeds – one into my life for quite a long time, through her books that found their way to me – and today, she encouraged me when I needed it. That is the kind of inheritance I want to leave my children.
It’s like she carried within her a packet of faith seeds – and one happened to fall into my life and like a perennial, it keeps re-blooming in just the right season.
While visiting my aunt last weekend, I looked at the picture of her beside my bed. We have the same cheekbones, I think and the same green eyes – and we both are searchers – searching out the Father and the things of the Father and living it real, not perfect but real. I think we both try(ied) living the following:
“He to whom the Eternal Word speaks is free from theorizing. For from this Word are all things and of Him all things speak – the Beginning Who also speaks to us. Without this Word no man understands or judges aright. He to whom it becomes everything, who traces all things to it and who sees all things in it, may ease his heart and remain at peace with God” (Thomas A Kempis, “The Imitation of Christ: The Doctrine of Truth)
- Sitting on my brother’s front porch, visiting, talking, watching my boys play ball with his sweet dog
- Spending time with a nephew, seeing his house, all the details of his University of Kentucky collection, spending time with his sweet fiance – and remembering the starting out with my husband almost 29 years ago – just the two of us – and feeling that same joy with this nephew and fiance.
- Dragging my boys to Captain Abraham Linkhorn Lincoln’s grave site down the road from where I grew up, where he was buried after he was massacred by Indians. This cemetery was a history book of American Revolutionary Patriots that needed to be read and remembered.
- Reminders that my mom and aunt love me fiercely!
- Love given not lost in translation
- A miracle moment before my surgery. I was sitting, waiting for the dr, and just asking my Father to be there with me. He as right there with me as the doctor informed me I might have Krohn’s disease instead of a bad gallbladder and cancelled surgery. He was right there with me through the second Cat Scan. He was right there with me as I looked up this disease at home and thought, “I don’t have those symptoms.” He was right there with me when she called an hour later and said what she saw before was no longer there – and we decided to have that nasty gallbladder taken out. The surgery results also showed no Krohn’s Disease – just a gallbladder that didn’t fulfill its lifetime warranty.
- Zinnia’s picked the morning of my surgery to brighten my homecoming
- A kettle of Chicken noodle soup for after my surgery
- Two loaves of bread filled with zucchini from my garden, pineapple and cran-raisens
- My boys laughing as they give me gentle, no-touch hugs
- Healing enough to get gentle, lite-touch hugs
- Yellow flowers sent from my mom to cheer my recovery
- My husband, teasing me, cheering me throughout
- Sunday Morning Beignets
- Chard from the Farmer’s Market sautéed in olive oil, onions from a friend’s garden, garlic and Feta cheese
- My very first tomato from my garden
- Phone calls from my aunts – their sisterhood never ceases to amaze me
- water hoses and plenty of water for my plants and flowers
- My husband bringing me a love-gift – a diet Dr. Pepper – LOL
- After my surgery, my soldier son taking the littlest brother to Sonic and buying him a Rt 44 Cheery Lime Aid – which he brought home and gifted me:)
- A care-package my son and daughter-in-law brought over – a little, dark-haired grandbaby girl for me to see.
- All my boys in my house at the same time – hearing them laugh, watching them play chess -
- A moment of peace wrapped around all of us
- A 3 hour convalescence nap
- Feeling like my thinking cap has been restored to my head
- Answered prayers – lots of them, overflowing – all so different, all so precious
- Friends who pray
- Friends who know my heart and believe it is true
- The knowledge even when the world doubts my heart, my intent – God knows the truth of it – and that’s all that matters.
- Pillows, blankets and a galaxy fan
- An orange carrot and yellow mango smoothie with honey
- Evenings watering plants and garden, walking, talking with my amazing husband.