We are visiting my grandmother. It's hot in her apartment, and crowded, with her, my godparents and my own family of five. There isn't much space between her furniture that once lived in her big country home and the walls of her subsidised rent apartment. Liam my seven year old, is cuddled up next to her, holding her hand and commenting on her softness.
It's true she has the softest skin of any grownup I've known, it rivals my own babies when they were brand new. I'm sitting beside her on the other side, just like my son, feeling her soft skin caress mine. This is the first visit I see she is getting really old. She is stunning and always has been, her amber brown eyes the same colour as my Raine's still sparkle, and her clothes fashionable for her age, but her walk is unsteady, we've only been here an hour and I can see the fatigue already setting in; she is too thin.
I love my grandmother with a blind passion. Perhaps it's because she is fiercely loyal and unbelievably strong. It's obvious she is from a different generation, she holds a quiet, almost regal determination and confidence that is rarely seen anymore. She has been through tragedies more than enough for several lifetimes. Her stories are the kind that are worth telling and worth hearing. Her stories are the kind that break your soul with one breath and heal it with the next. She radiates joy, she loves God and her faith. She has taught me much and only rarely did she need to use words. She is a wise woman.
I long to tell many of her stories. Her stories could fill a book.
Today I'm telling a rather simple story from this hot summer day. This day, when Liam was on her one side and I was on the other. When we were soaking her in, not knowing when we would see her next. And she was talking about God, because of course she was. A psalm was coming from her mouth, I wish I could remember which one. But it was a lament and she was speaking of comfort. She was speaking of how many laments there are in the psalms. Then she changed her topic and my life abruptly by saying 'But look at King David and all the terrible things he did. Yet God loved him. Sometimes I think Leah, all those terrible things people did are in the bible, not because God wanted them to but because God will stop at nothing to show us that he loves us even though we do terrible things.'
How could she know her granddaughter's faith was broken, waiting to be either discarded or made new? How could she know I needed to hear confirmation of a loving God and how parts of the bible were not confirming that for me? How could she know she had just given me a priceless gift, one that meant so much coming from her, who loves her traditional theology, yet harbored endless grace in her words. This is a woman whose soft skin reflects her callous free heart.
My grandmother, one of my spiritual matriarchs, she helped birthed newness in me through the gift of her wisdom that day.
Linking up with Sarah Bessey for a Syncroblog on Spiritual Midwives and Patron Saints (and I'm humbly adding my own title of Spiritual Matriarchs) for International Women's Day. And while I have many women in my life who deserve recognition this day, for just this year I am choosing to honour my grandmother and her small but fiercely loyal ways and how they have impacted. Perhaps because she is so traditional and does not call out to be noticed, but loves in the small, faithful ways. I'm celebrating the gift of seeing pure grace, strength and wisdom. All found in someone with the softest skin.