We all know people in our lives that we look at and wonder how they can remain so graceful. My grandmother was one of those people, a farmers wife and daughter, hard working, lived through WWI and WWII, Vietnam, and other conflicts, the Great Depression, raising kids before antibiotics, living in the oftentimes unforgivable terrain that is the Tug Hill in NY state…Grandma was full of grace. She survived on prayers, reciting her rosary faithfully every morning. She worked hard and put one foot in front of the other every day. A widow for the last 30 years of her life, she went on with a smile, caring for herself and letting others care about her.
But that isn’t Mary who I am thinking of in the title. Mary is a woman I know who is also a widow. She has two children ages 8 and 11 and she is a lot like Grandma in that she puts one foot in front of the other. Recently, the community theatre did a production of Scrooge, and she and her children took part in it. Let me give a little background, Mary is also an owner of a busy real estate business, an active member of her community in many ways and yet she makes time to give her children happy childhood memories instead of dwelling in their loss. She focuses on what God gives to them instead of letting them think that God had taken away. Their father died on a November night before Thanksgiving and I can only imagine how difficult it would be to try to get past that, when your most distinct memories as a child would be about the holidays. So she has gone out of her way to make new memories. To return the kids to their natural joy. She is a shining example of faith. When I talk to her, I feel I am in the presence of someone that I want to be more like. She would laugh at that.
But there are people like Mary and my grandmother all around us. People who know that God keeps his promises even when times may not look like it. We need these people to help us better hope in the Lord. As we get ever closer to Christmas, as we journey ever deeper into the mystery of Advent, we need to settle the seed deep in our hearts that tells us without question that God loves us, that God lives in each of us. That we can all make the difference that brings peace to the suffering earth.
Today I want to pray for those like Mary and her family who are missing a loved one. For those who experience a less joyful holiday. To think of those people in our own lives that we see everyday as examples of hope. To consider how we can bring hope to someone else.