Rita, my sister-in-law, resides in a nursing home. She can no longer converse and her days pass inside the embrace of a recliner. A blank stare occupies her face. Occasionally, a slight smile plays on her lips.
Today, I gaze out the window in the silence of her presence, contemplating various scenes and seasons from her life. My visit falls on the feast of St. Luke and the opening verse of his gospel plays on my mind: I have investigated all that has occurred and have arranged the events into an orderly account.
Without the lens of Luke’s narrative, and that of the other evangelists, how blurry would be the meaning of life on earth.
Rita and my brother raised a large family on a small farm. Their faith provided the backdrop to all they dreamed, endeavored and accomplished. So, on this feast, it is only natural to recall Rita’s talent for baking in light of St. Martha’s toil in the kitchen; Rita’s firm convictions echo beneath Christ’s debates with the Pharisees; her heartfelt love is glimpsed in the woman who washed and anointed Jesus’ feet.
In the midst of this introspection, Rita’s niece, Jenny, arrives at the door. She carries a bag that contains items from her mother’s house. Taking a seat near the window, she withdraws a picture in a cardboard frame and holds it up for Rita to see.
“You recognize this pretty girl?”
It is Rita’s high school graduation portrait.
A light comes to Rita’s eyes and a smile appears on her face.
All generations will call me blessed!
Jenny holds up a second picture, this one is in color and framed in gold. Rita’s smile widens. She lifts a trembling hand to touch the portrait of her and my brother on their wedding day.
Mary treasured all these things and pondered them in her heart.
Jenny throws me a wistful glance then stands to arrange the pictures on the shelf of a cabinet.
Outside the window, a yellow finch flutters about a feeder, the tiny seeds in the tray providing nourishment for the bird’s gleeful dance.
He has lifted up the lowly and filled the hungry with good things.
Inside the room, a woman named Martha arranges slices of Living Bread on a plate. At the recliner, a famished soul is poised for flight.