when i lived with her i loved a pole she kept in her living room. rainbow ribbons hanging down on rugged stem, i wondered what it was. yes, she had made it, and it was her Bannerpole of Remembrance. it was a way to mark His hand in her life, through church milestones, family blessings, and answered prayers. she asked if i'd like to make one, too. oh, yes. that was almost seven years ago, and i forget all too soon. i give voice to His existence but don't live as if He reigns.
so today i write a story, another ribbon on my pole. my faith has been bolstered, and He knew--he provided this grace and abundance for sister but also for me, so that in the telling i can cry and remember His love in my own life.
bad day. some days are you know. those wee ones with ear infections and the five of them all cooped in a too-cold home. they needed medicine, her mother in law wanted to come but wasn't allowed. a fight. the resignation, they need the medicine, so they leave without her, feeling the dull gloom of bitterness at his obstinance.
it's one of those days. you know the kind: waiting in line dealing with insurance issues, and one of the twins has an explosive diaper. she, patient mama, goes to change the little one, passing a crowd of policemen on the way. small town curiosity gets the better of her; oh, it's just a program of cops paired with low-income kids to shop for Christmas. neat-o. husband and other girls reunite and they're off to leave, just outside the door, when a call to WAIT! can you wait? we want to put you in the program, but you have to wait. looks are exchanged, agreed. (they couldn't have stayed if she'd come after all, they figure this out after the 2 hours they linger)
policeman returns to say we have $130 for each of the girls, yes even those 8 week old darlings, of course! blown away: no diapers at home. nothing left for this year, no more work, no tidy packages. loaded up with diapers for three, she passes by infant swings, notes the cost, never mind it's over limit. "hey, you need one of these don't you?" no, i can't. he puts two in the cart anyway. oldest daughter gets so many toys she can't even imagine. they check out. $900 worth of stuff, and at home no presents under the tree. so many tears fall down cheeks, mama, daddy, why are you crying?
another woman hands her bags of little girl clothing--i hope they fit. where all this generosity?
the gifts are delivered that night instead of in two weeks as the program works. he shakes the cop's hand too hard; he hangs on because he can't let go. inside living room with no room just like an inn of long ago, he reaches hands in pockets, more money stuffed in coat, enough for a bill waiting.
exasperated christians argue that Christmas isn't about giving, but this night they understand that it is about the only Gift that ever mattered. the one whose very birth was Abundance, by whom other graces are given. life is breathed anew in swings and dolls and diapers for three.
shed tears of thanksgiving and rejoicing on sister's behalf?