“Like the unexpected call of a friend just when you need it most, grace arrives unannounced. A door opens. A path becomes clear. An answer presents itself. Grace is what it feels like to be touched by God.” Bishop Steven Charleston Daily Facebook Writing
I stand waiting to walk out and read the gospel as we sing the hymn before the gospel, Dear Lord and Father of mankind. I glance at the last verse that the congregation will be singing just before the gospel reading. There, faintly written in pencil is the word, “softer,” just before the beginning of the last line. It is my mother’s distinctive handwriting. I had forgotten that my mother sang in the choir at her small Episcopal church in Virginia, and this must be a directive from the choirmaster. My mother has been dead for over nineteen years. We did not always understand each other, but when she died, I wanted to honor her in some way and decided to start using her personal hymnal prayer book in church. As you can see, her name has worn off the front cover, the gold cross will soon be gone, the red leather cover is now coming apart, particularly the back board of the spine of the book is gone. I have not repaired it because for some unknown reason what remains of this book just as she used it seems to be connecting me to her.
When I saw my mother’s writing, I gasped and sent up a small prayer of thanksgiving. We had some very difficult times, but over the time since her death I have begun to feel healing. This morning, in this split second, I felt reconciled with my mother and was grateful for the life she gave me and her support.
Healing of family relationships takes time and constant prayer for that person and ourselves. Today I realize that prayer works. Attempting to connect to an estranged family member through something that family member treasures and we can share with them over time works. I know this sharing of what we have in common rather than our differences brings about healing in life as well as after death. My mother and I shared our love of the Episcopal Church and singing in particular. I almost felt my mother beside me.
Today I experience one more way that God’s Grace continues to heal and care for us over time if we only put ourselves in position to receive.