It had promise of being an exhausting weekend, starting with a high-anxiety work week. I lumbered home on Friday evening even later than usual to prepare food for Saturday's family reunion.
Chop. Dice. Stir.
I come from a tomato and cucumber family, so artichokes, avocado, and palm hearts get picked out and shoved aside. Nothing says "It's great to see you again" like pasta salad with vegetables that nobody recognizes.
The reunion was pleasant albeit not well attended, with merely an occasional mumbled snide remark. My 94 year-old aunt had moments of lucidity, but not too many. After visiting with my mother (her sister) for several minutes, Mom walked away and Aunt B said "Who was that woman, anyway?"
And twice she asked Ron Burgundy how long he's worked at the TV station and twice he said "Over 35 years" to which she finally replied "How come they let you stay there that long?"
Out of the mouths of babes - and the elderly.
I attend these family gatherings to put a little "fun" in dysfunctional. I didn't do such a bang-up job this time. The planets just weren't lined up properly or something.
By Sunday I was spent. I was running on about 6 hours of sleep for the week, and had this creeping anxiety about the work week ahead. And my heart was aching a bit for various and sundry reasons that would be a whole other post that probably won't be written.
I went to church alone on Sunday morning. Rather than my usual pre-claimed seat, I sat way back in the balcony. I'd never gone up there before, and I knew with my current state of exhaustion and emotion, the tears would flow with the first song. I really just wanted to sit alone and let the snot run. It's one of my spiritual gifts.
A young family with three beautiful little girls came and sat next to me. I was fine with that. They were well-behaved and polite, and other than the fact the little one next to me had her Crocs on the wrong feet, they were quite Rockwellian. I love how little girls swing their legs incessantly when their feet don't hit the floor.
Pastor gave a short spiel on the mission trips some of the congregants had taken, and at the end, the ushers passed pails of baggies containing a hemp string and two beads. We were to put together a bracelet this week, with the green bead representing Kenya and the blue bead representing the Czech Republic. It was a simple prayer reminder for our brothers and sisters who are being disciples to other nations.
But to the little 7 or 8ish year old girl next to me, it was craft time.
"Would you like me to tie your bracelet for you?"
By this time we'd been through 3 songs and I'd soaked as many kleenex. But I didn't want to be rude.
"Sure," I said. "You'll be better at jewelry making than I am." I'll admit it. I faked being nice. I was too selfishly absorbed in my own thoughts & emotions to really feel like being nice.
"Well, we just can't do these things by ourselves, you know. I'll tie yours and you can tie mine on my wrist."
I felt my heart soften. She had the most gorgeous long sable hair, and eyelashes with which you could sweep the kitchen floor.
She showed such innocence, such confidence, and her sweet little fingers swiftly tied the beads and knotted the string. It was apparent she had done this before.
I then proceeded to tie hers. She carefully directed my every move in the kindest of ways as my clumsy gnarly fingers tied her bracelet together. I resisted the urge to pull it tight using my teeth like I would have in private.
"Now we should wear these all week you know," she instructed, "to remind us to pray for the mission people."
She was so proud. "What's your name?" she asked.
"That's awesome! I don't know anyone named Candy! I can't wait to tell Mom but she wants me to be quiet in church."
This little girl in the span of a half hour had given me such a lift, such a light to a dark week, that I couldn't help but feel her genuine delight over simply my name, which when you think about it, is pretty silly for a mature woman. I was feeling a bit more hopeful about the rest of my day and the week ahead.
As the service ended and we started to depart, she grabbed her little sister's hand and started walking out.
"You never told me your name," I said.
"It's Hope.....and this my little sister Faith."
Somehow, in the midst of worship music and bracelet tying, I knew that.
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