Esther, Ruth, Naomi, Rachel, Elizabeth, Anna, Hannah, Sarah--I love learning about these mothers of our faith! I love thinking about the women who have gone before us. And, I aspire to learn from them.
Blame it on my old soul. In the spirit of matriarchs, I decided to forgo the perfectly curated greenery image for this post, because at this point in the winter, this Christmas Cactus is a show-stopper in our front window: Coral & fuchsia in a season of muted browns and grays.
I particularly love it because it reminds me of two important matriarchs in the life of our family.
The pink cactus had been a Valentines day gift for my Grandmother in a cold and dreary Wisconsin February; she died the following day. It blooms each year in memory of her anniversary, without fail.
The coral cactus belonged to my husband's grandmother and bloomed in her sunny dining room window in rural Indiana. When I received it after her funeral, I knew exactly where it would go.
Mingled up in my remembrance flower pot.
Besides the geographic distance between these two, I'm not sure these gals would have been natural friends:
Sassy and introverted, proud Irish red-head until the end; motorcycle-rider, meets Church secretary and card shark, who was known to mow the lawn in pumps.
And yet, their legacies are permanently intertwined. In thinking of them, I was reminded of this excerpt from a collection of stories on women's friendship in the rural west:
"I was doing my usual Cinco de Mayo garden digging when I unearthed two carrots--deep-buried, bright orange surprises with green stems. So, of course, I stopped digging to taste them: very woody but full-bodied carrot taste.
Chewing on this fascinating find made me think of my granddaughter Alissa's other grandmother, the one who teaches her how to scrape, slice, dice, blend, mash, and puree carrots. If Alissa were here with me now, the only tool we'd use before chomping on the carrots would be the garden hose.
And with the munching came the revelation: kids need both kind of grandmas. They need a grandma who teaches them to cook and a grandma who will eat anything; one to learn from and one to practice on...
There ought to be a word in English like the Spanish comadre; a word that means you recognize the bond, you declare the relationship to your child's mother-in-law. Her hand raised the child your child fell in love with. There ought to be a word in English that kisses that hand, that says thank you for giving all the tools, skills, and love you have to help my child and yours build their life together; the differences between us, the diversity in us, only expand their horizons."
- Claudette Ortiz, Woven on the Wind.
I love her recognition of needing a variety of things. I love that we can learn from Hannah's prayerfulness, Ruth's loyalty to Naomi, Esther's wisdom, Sarah's faithfulness, Rachel's patience, Elizabeth's trust.
And, I love the way these distinct lives or our fore bearers have begun to blossom together, if even metaphorically.
Now each year, all February long, life erupts, vibrant colors mingling. I love the thought that in our home, we hold onto something tangible they cared for, too. Of course, the houseplant isn't the only thing; Their great-grandchildren bounce off the walls of this same room, proof positive that the legacy of these two women, who never met, lives on. As long as I live, I don't think I will walk past the darned thing without being struck by the fact that these strangers, have unintentionally left behind a stunning heritage.
Would that I heed their thriving witness and seek to bloom with unlikely "comadres" in all circumstances.
I hope you have a blessed Valentine's day tomorrow. If you are in the market for any ways to spread the love, I'm writing on learning to be neighbor, inspired by one of my favorite books for Blessed Is She, today....
Admittedly, this vision of neighborliness is my New Year’s resolution. It does not have to be yours, too. The good news is, it can take as much or little time as you have. You do not have to be wealthy/single/married/empty-nesting/young/old to do this and do it well. Keep reading