And the second is like it: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’ — Matthew 22:39
This past Sunday, my dad and I drove to The Big Easy. I learned last week that my Aunt Kathy wasn’t doing so well, and then a couple of days later we were informed that she had passed. She had lived in New Orleans for a lot of years. Many of those years I’d talk to her on the phone and she’d always say, “Come on down, you have a place to stay.” I’d always say that I would, but then never actually go. Fortunately, last year the National Scrabble Championship was in New Orleans, so I accepted the invitation and stayed with her for a week. Had that not happened, I’d have some serious regrets right now at never going to see her. I’m so glad that God seemed to ordain that trip. We had a great time that week.
Whenever someone I know dies, my first instinct is to let my mind cut loose with the memories I have of that person. The first thing that came to mind was how she took care of me while I was down there this past Summer. Every time I sat down, she was preparing me twice as much food as I could possibly eat, offering me drinks, doting on me, and just talking with me every chance she got. I did notice that she wasn’t in near the health she was the last time I had seen her years before. I wondered if it would be the last time I saw her when I left. Turns out, it was.
My mind then wandered to when I was a kid. On her days off, my Aunt Kathy would take me to the thrift store, buy me old clothes, and would just spend the whole day with me doing whatever. I loved it. We’d go bowling, out to eat, wandering around, loafing, and just whatever we could get ourselves into. I can’t remember her ever telling me no. The way I will always choose to remember her is by the attached picture. I was almost four years old at the time, but this was the way it always was in my single digit years.
We had the God conversation. She was trusting in Christ for her salvation. She was Catholic, which means she and I have quite a few differences in our belief systems. She put a lot of stock in the rituals of the church, whereas I go through great pains to not be ritualistic at all. I can’t help but smile as I look at her rosary beads that were given to me. I can’t even imagine saying three “Hail Mary’s” as I pray to God. She probably couldn’t imagine not saying them. As I honestly evaluate her salvation and my own, it turns out that the two of us together made a pretty complete Christian.
See, I believe that I love God. He is the love of my life. Talking to Him in any kind of ritualistic way would be so strange to me. Aunt Kathy didn’t talk to Him like I do. Yet, from the people I met yesterday that knew her, she absolutely loved them. They felt loved by her. There were people that knew and loved her that I don’t even think I would have introduced myself to. I would have just passed them right on by because we have so little in common. Not my Aunt Kathy, she would open her home to them, give them whatever resources she had, talk with them, comfort them, cook for them, man did she love people.
And people loved her.
No matter what we believed differently from a theological perspective, it is the same blood of Jesus Christ that we are clinging to as we enter eternal life. I’m just taking this moment to really reflect on how I love people. I so want to get to the point where I love them as she did.
Man! I have a long way to go.