Saturday, August 27, 2016

The Letter

A week ago, I wrote a blog about a letter Mom kept that I wrote. Seven years ago, I wrote a blog about Mom writing a letter about me. Every day, I'm more indebted to the lady who has her arms around me in the shot above.

If you like spooky stories, there is one in 2nd Chronicles 21. In that chapter, Jehoram, king of Judah, receives a letter from Elijah which prophesies really bad things are in store for the monarch. The fascinating twist to the communication is that Elijah had long since departed the earth. Talk about a slow postal service! We aren't told how the letter was delivered or if maybe another prophet had saved the message for the appropriate time but it came to pass. Jehoram was not long for this world and would die a horrible death for his sins. It was all in the letter.


Right after Thanksgiving, I was the recipient of my own letter from one no longer with us. When we lived in Brooklyn, my folks were great friends with Sam and Leslie Grimes. When we moved to Nebraska when I was four, my mom stayed in touch with Leslie. What came in the mail for me was a note from Leslie who had been cleaning and ran across a letter from my mother, dated two days before Christmas when I was five years old. She very kindly returned it to our family through me. The handwriting was unmistakable; Mom had almost flawless penmanship. What I read in those three pages was my mother's life as it played out in front of her oblivious son. There were so many things I don't remember, probably because like most little boys, it simply did not matter. But I saw a glimpse of me through her eyes. Commenting on Leslie and Sam's newborn, whose name was Stephen, Mom said:
"Say, I sure like his name! I can't think of our Stephen being named anything else, for it just seems to fit him."
I would agree with Mom's assessment. She went on to say how our yard was the gathering place of the boys in the neighborhood and how that made her happy. She spoke of just having an open house for the congregation, of which Dad was the preacher, and how she had been nervous but had pulled it off on a shoestring budget. (Decorations consisted of, ''pine cones, milo, china berries, and sweet gum balls spray painted gold.") Mom made whatever house we lived in a palace with almost no monetary resources.


But what I really learned from that long-lost correspondence was that there had been problems in the congregation when we had arrived a year and a half previously. There were several unhappy families who had apparently been very vocal with their displeasure, which as a young preacher's wife, Mom took hard. But those families had all recently moved out of state as a group and things were now peaceful in the church. What impressed me was that Mom expressed no animosity for those brothers and sisters who she believed had caused heartache. Instead, she told Leslie that, "I feel so very sorry for them." That, in one sentence, was my mother. I'm sure she, like all of us, had her moments when she struggled to love but I never saw it and I had a pretty good vantage point. The picture correlates to the time frame the letter was mailed to Brooklyn. I'm with Mom while Dad is attempting to keep Dave under control. That was the house we lived in with the yard and the spray painted pine cones and a little boy whose name fit him. The yellow house is still there, inhabited by some other family. Mom has moved to another home but her kindness lives on in quite a few other people whose lives were intersected by her orbit. I just hope her graciousness fits me as much as the name.

Applicable quote of the day:
"A letter always seemed to me like immortality because it is the mind alone without corporeal friend.''
Emily Dickinson

God bless,
Steve
Luke 18:1

www.hawleybooks.com
E-mail 
me at steve@hawleybooks.com

No comments: