Monday, November 1, 2010

Change of Seasons

Autumn has been filled with much change. The leaves have slowly turned from bright greens into vibrant rusts, reds and golden amber tones. Every fall I sense a time of change not only with the seasons but with myself as well. For me, it's a time to reflect on where I've been and where I'm going.

Sorrow has encompassed my soul these last couple of weeks. My 89 year old grandma passed away. She had been inflicted with Alzheimer's disease the last 10 years or so of her life but was able to live at home because my single uncle stayed with her and helped care for her. This loss is the closest one I've ever experienced. My gram and I were pretty close. I grew up three doors down the street from her and being that she was a widow, I was able to spend the night and visit whenever I wanted. She always had the best food and sweets galore. She filled my visits with stories of her life. She grew up in Eastern Kentucky on a farm. I loved listening to her talk about her childhood. I have missed her for the last 10 years but now I will miss seeing her precious smile and holding her red-weathered hands. I loved her so much and know that she loved me deeply. I was so fortunate to have known her.

Grandma had a life filled with tragedy. She lost her firstborn when he was 4 to Spinal Meningitis. He died in his room at home with my great-grandmother next to his side. Another son was killed in the Vietnam War. My dad still remembers the Marine officers who came knocking on the door while my grandma was carrying a load of clothes. She immediately dropped the laundry basket and started to weep, knowing what they were coming to tell her, the worst news she could imagine. She somehow managed to continue on, taking care of the rest of her children, caring for them and raising them, all 7. My grandfather was hit and killed by a train on his way to the local automobile plant where he worked when he was only 54 years old. Gram told me that the night before he died, he was changing a light bulb in the kitchen and he asked her,

"What would you do without me around here Esta?"

I'm sure she never dreamed that she would have to live out the answer to that simple question.

My uncle and his three boys moved in with my Gram when they were young for about a year or so. Six years later my cousin who was 16 at the time ran his car off of the road and into a tree. He died later that night at the hospital. Grandma had to bury another loved one who was much too young to die.

My grandma knew sorrow. She was all too familiar with loss. She was the strongest woman I have ever known who faced each day filled with a faith that I could only dream of ever attaining. When asked how she could endure so much tragedy in one lifetime, Gram would always reply,

"If it wasn't for the Lord, I don't know what I'd do."

God granted her with a peace that was unexplainable yet undeniable.

Often times, I try to replace emptiness with peace. Lately I realize that just because I feel empty or lonely doesn't mean that I am without peace. As a matter of fact when I am completely emptied and alone is when God's peace can most abound. This is when I can embrace his grace-filled hand and cling on because I have no where else to turn or look but upward.

I have been so blessed to be surrounded by so much love from wonderful friends and family these last few weeks. Different souls who I cherish dearly, have given up precious time with their families and just been there for me. For that I am extremely grateful and have been reminded of how important it is to love unselfishly at all times. Because isn't that what it's all about? Loving like God loved us? Sacrificing precious time in my little comfortable world for those around me. Because if I can't display love to those I call beloved how can I even begin to love the unlovely?

As winter approaches and change is in the air, I hope to turn around some areas of my life that are in dire need of changing. Just as the leaves begin to brown and wither and drift to the ground I hope to die to my old selfish ways. As the wind blows each leaf from every tree, I pray that God's breath will blow through my soul and empty it of everything that is inhibiting me from displaying His love to those around me. Because only when I am completely empty can God's Spirit move in and beautifully quench the dryness of my thirsty soul.

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