About 100 people gathered Saturday morning to remember Miss Lena. Among us were her son and three daughters, along with grandchildren and great-grandchildren. Perhaps some of the great-great-grandchildren were there, too.
Miss Lena was a sweet lady–and a feisty one. A couple of days before the funeral, her daughter Laura and granddaughter Susan told me one of the feisty stories. Between our home and Miss Lena’s is a place we call “the boils.” Branching off of one of our local rivers is a short channel with a deep pool at its end. In the pool is an area where the water is always bubbling. About forty years ago, Miss Lena took some visiting friends from Canada to see this local geological wonder (we locals still like to show off our “boils). Much to the delight of her guests, Miss Lena, then in her forties, grabbed a grapevine and swung out over the pool. Like father, like daughter, I suppose; I have also heard a story about Miss Lena’s daddy who is reported to have dived down into the boils one time, never finding the bottom.
The minister told us about Miss Lena’s sweetness. He praised her meek and gentle spirit and described her as a loving mother. Miss Lena was interested in others, he said, and she did a lot of things for a lot of people. She also practiced hospitality, making you feel that she was glad you were in her home.
The minister encouraged us to imitate Miss Lena’s life.
I know Miss Lena because her daughter is my friend Laura, who reaches out to Chinese students along with her husband Larry. Laura has already been imitating her mother’s life; I know she will continue. Laura and Larry moved here fifteen years ago so that they could be here when Miss Lena really needed them. They came long before Miss Lena got very, very sick so that Laura and her mom could enjoy many happy times together before she became confined to her home. It worked–they enjoyed many good years and Miss Lena did get to a point that she really needed them. Laura has been spending her days at her mother’s house for a few years now. For weeks and weeks, she and Larry have been sleeping on an inflatable mattress on her living room floor.
While we were gathered there on Saturday morning, a soprano and an alto, a tenor and a bass blended their voices to sing to us about heaven in four-part a cappella harmony.
There’s a land that is fairer than day,
And by faith we can see it afar;
For the Father waits over the way
To prepare us a dwelling place there.
In the sweet by and by,
We shall meet on that beautiful shore . . .
There’s a beautiful place called heaven,
It is hidden above the bright blue . . .
Above the bright blue, the beautiful blue,
Jesus is waiting for me and for you;
Heaven is there, not far from our sight,
Beautiful city of light.
Kindness. Hospitality. A meek and gentle spirit. Jesus waiting for me and for you in that beautiful place called heaven. Sweet things to ponder on a Saturday morning.
In My Father’s house are many dwelling places;
if it were not so, I would have told you;
for I go to prepare a place for you.