Tag Archives: ritual

What We Remember

peanut butter and knife

I’m having a hard time finding enough sympathy cards this month, so many beloved mothers and fathers and husbands have succumbed to time and health challenges. Perhaps it’s the sheer quantity of losses, but I finally noticed: what funny, seemingly unimportant moments become the stuff of stories.

One lovely woman, my neighbor’s mother, was remembered from the pulpit by her four grandchildren. The one who is my son’s age said he remembered three things about “Grandy.” I’ve forgotten what one was but I remember the other two: peanut butter and a knife.

He listed the objects first. Then he started talking about what he remembered from his visits to see his grandmother. He said he’d never forget how she let him eat peanut butter out of a jar with a knife.

It conjures up a perfect moment, doesn’t it? This go-ahead-help-yourself-when-you’re-here-dear approach to visiting? There’s a grandmother who knew enjoying time together was more important than rules. She knew, literally, the sweet spot of her grandchildren, and in small indulgences, showed how well she understood them.

Sometimes it’s the smallest things we remember. The little rituals that stick.

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Blessed by God

Prayer boat by Lynn Fawcett Whiting

When I spoke to my cousin, Lynn Fawcett Whiting, on the evening that Dad died, she told me she had just sent the following email to me about sending up a prayer on his behalf. Dad died sometime in the hours after she performed this lovely ritual:

When we were children, maybe you did this too.. we sometimes made bark candle boats with our mother to put on the lake at sunset to send our prayers to God.  This afternoon led by that little girl I found a piece of bark and carved a hole in it for a candle, and lined it with wax and muslin. Henry and I wrote our prayers on washi paper with gold leaf and folded them in Japanese love knots and placed them in the bark boat. We then made our way to the National Wildlife Sanctuary on the Snake River where countless thousands of birds are wintering over… Wild swans, snow geese, Canadian geese, Mallards, Teal.. ducks of every variety, cormorants, coots, .. not only heard our prayers but joined our plaintive cry and called the landscape to prayer.. as the sound of a thousand wings lifted in the brilliant light of the setting sun and carried our prayers to God.  The message was a simple one.. Everyone who has known or been touched by Henry Campbell has already been blessed by God.

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