How did the rose ever open its heart and give to the world all its beauty?
It felt the encouragement of light against its being.
Otherwise we all remain too frightened.
Light, joy, laughter, encouragement, kindness, honor, generosity, grace, compassion, presence – these are some of the many gifts Rose, my grandmother gave to the world. These gifts she leaves with us to continue to cultivate within ourselves so that we can give to each other with the kind of generosity and love with which she gave so easily, and so that we might connect deeper with the Divine, with God.
When I think about my Grandmother and her life one word keeps coming to me – Grace. Grace is the positive awareness and mysteriously deep connection to God. Grace is received by opening our hearts to receive gifts in many forms. Ultimately all these gifts are from God.
Grace allowed Grandma to be compassionately present. The Hebrew word Hineini means “Here I am” or “I am here” now…freely and eagerly. Hineini… This is how Rose lived….Here now…..willingly present for each person, cheerfully present for each moment…even when she could no longer communicate verbally, she was present in her eyes, in her smiles, in her heart and in her loving energy that you could feel just walking into the room.
Throughout her life, Grandma embodied the grace of what many traditions teach – being in the present moment is The way to be closer to God. The depth and beauty of each moment with Grandma brought us into what my Sufi teacher says is the “Glow of the Presence,” the glow of God. The presence of the mystery. And Grandma seemed to always glow.
Grandma was selfless and generous in her grace. Her generosity extended to every interaction in her life. She didn’t like to talk about herself. Instead when you had a conversation with her you knew she was present with you, listening, really listening. You felt like you were the only one she was paying attention to in that moment.
By living in grace, Rose embodied honor and integrity and was consistent in the little things. In an age of unlimited technology to communicate with each other, grandma stayed true to the simplicity and beauty of sending cards to celebrate birthdays, anniversaries and other special times. These little surprises brought with them not just the tangible gifts, but the genuine offerings of love and care from her in such a beautiful way. These seemingly small acts of generosity came from Grandma’s big graceful heart. She showed up for all of us. Always present at celebrations and gatherings; always willing to offer whatever she could; always willing and able to laugh.
Oh, her laugh. An uproarious, infectious, full laugh that seemed to come from every part of her being. That laughter was like an invisible hand, touching anyone within ear shot; inviting you into the grace, the lightness and the joyfulness of the present moment. You couldn’t help but laugh with her even if you didn’t know what was funny; even if nothing was funny; even if it was simply a beautiful moment of sharing such pure delight.
Celebrating her life we all will have our own memories of Rose. And those memories, those palpable feelings of love and joy we have in our hearts right now are what we get to touch again, and again. Every time we experience the sadness of Grandma not being with us physically any more, bring your hand to your heart. Every time we miss her, remember that the grace-filled love she gave so generously in her laughter, in her hugs, in her smiles, in her kindness and in her time spent simply being – those are the ways that she is and will always be with us.
May we continue to live within the Grace and Light of the Divine; and in this time of sorrow, may Grandma’s laughter comfort us all.