Monday, January 9, 2012

What is her? An innocent question with a revealing answer

My mom and my grandbaby. Life is good.
Last night, we returned from a 3-day weekend in Manheim, PA, where we were visiting my mom. Her 85th birthday was on Saturday, so my husband and I took our granddaughter, Laura, and headed east on the turnpike. Laura is a real joy to travel with, which can't always be said about toddlers. We sang songs, played rhyming games, laughed and told stories. Lots and lots of stories. As much fun as it was, at my age, it's still a bit tiring to tote a toddler around for 3 days. I don't know how you older moms do it! I am so glad I had my kids before I was 30.

My mom usually goes to bed fairly early, but on Friday night, after we put Laura to bed at 8:30, Bill, Mom and I played Pinochle until after midnight. Mom and I, in an unusual night of card playing, lost every hand!

Laura's face beside the bed at 7:30 a.m. was not what I had planned on when I fell off to sleep around 2 a.m.! That was the start of a very busy day for me, as I hosted a birthday dinner for my mom that evening. The guests all seemed to enjoy the food, my traditional dinner questions and the company. By the time they left, and Mom went to bed, I was faced with a huge mess to clean up (Bill helped a little before falling asleep on the couch). The bed felt especially nice when I crawled in around 1 a.m.

Mom was surprised to find a cleaned up house when she made her way downstairs on Sunday morning, which made me happy. Sometimes, it's so worth the extra effort to do things right, don't you think?

My mom goes to Zion Evangelical Lutheran Church in Manheim, the church I was raised in. It's more traditional and formal than the church I currently attend, and I wasn't sure how Laura would handle the formality of it all. I must say, I was quite impressed with her behavior. She was quiet, respectful and promptly folded her hands and recited the Lord's Prayer right along with the congregation. Moments like that make a grandma proud. What didn't make me proud, but did slightly amuse me, was a particular comment Laura made before the service began.

There is a woman in the church that is, shall we say, a colorful character. So colorful, in fact, that she appeared on the show America's Got Talent last season. She even made it through the first round, although it is uncertain why. Mary Ellen is in her 70s, I believe, and wears a lot of makeup. Her hair is teased high and dyed bright red. Like I said, she's colorful. Her talent on the show was playing the keyboard and singing. Perhaps you remember her.

Well, she walked past our pew yesterday morning and Laura got a good look at her. With wide eyes, she turned to me and said, "What is her?"

I couldn't help laughing at the innocence of a child and her unrestrained honesty. We raise them to not point, to not stare, and certainly, not to make fun of anyone. But she was doing none of those things. She was curious.

Aren't we all? Haven't you ever seen someone and wondered, albeit silently, What is she? or What is he? or even What is that? Just because we are culturally refined, it does not mean we don't wonder sometimes. Which has me wondering ...

Has anyone ever looked at me and asked themselves, What is her? like Laura asked about Mary Ellen? After all, while I may not cover my face in "face paint," I sometimes cover my heart in it. Or my mind. Or my prejudices. Or my judgmental spirit. Sometimes a smile is a form of "face paint," when the sincerity of it is lost behind a slew of judgments or prejudices.

In many ways, Mary Ellen is more real than I am. What is her? In toddlerspeak, her is a woman who believes in her talent, is confident in her unique look and worships the same God I do. Her is worthy of respect.

Aren't we all?

And that, my friends, is the lesson I learned on the Sabbath this week. An unlikely lesson I didn't even recognized until I started writing this post. Now it's time to go wash off some of this "face paint" before the throne of God. After all, He's the only one who can wash me clean.

Sharing my Sabbath and more,


1 comment:

  1. How thought provoking. Thank you for holding up a mirror! :) btw, we older moms are running on exhaustion and not worrying about that stack of dishes or that pile of laundry.


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