Lessons of Love – Good News for March 8

8 03 2010

Luke 4:24-30

Jesus said to the people in the synagogue at Nazareth, “Amen, I say to you, no prophet is accepted in his own native place. Indeed, I tell you, there were many widows in Israel in the days of Elijah when the sky was closed for three and a half years and a severe famine spread over the entire land. It was to none of these that Elijah was sent, but only to a widow in Zarephath in the land of Sidon. Again, there were many lepers in Israel during the time of Elisha the prophet; yet not one of them was cleansed, but only Naaman the Syrian.”

When the people in the synagogue heard this, they were all filled with fury. They rose up, drove him out of the town, and led him to the brow of the hill on which their town had been built, to hurl him down headlong. But he passed through the midst of them and went away.

The Daily Path: When the people in the synagogue heard this, they were all filled with fury.

March 8 is always a special day for me as it’s the anniversary of the birth of my grandmother, Florence. She’s been gone now for some 18 years, but on this day we reconnect. I keep “Nana” on my mind throughout the day, and her presence feels so close once again. When I look at the role models in my life, she is right at the top for many reasons, far too many to share with you here today. The one I will share is the lesson of unconditional love that filled her heart.

There was always a great sense of peace about Nana. In my experience with her, no matter what challenges life presented – and there were many – somehow she retained her composure. I never heard her yell nor did I witness those moments of rage we all seem to experience. I’m sure there were many times that she wanted to go off on someone but I only saw a woman who could pass through the midst of the moment and continue on her way. It seemed as though there was only love and forgiveness in her heart, even when she was mugged and robbed no fewer than THREE TIMES in her later life.

Nana was a convert to Catholicism and I always find her great devotion to the Sacred Heart of Jesus so appropriate because in her own heart was such tremendous love. I pray that in my own life I can demonstrate one tenth the love she demonstrated for others… no matter what the circumstances.

I love you Nana and miss you terribly. Thank you for the lessons of Christ you continue to teach me.

Nana – Good News for March 8

8 03 2009

Happy Birthday Nana. 

Mark 9:2-10

Jesus took Peter, James, and John and led them up a high mountain apart by themselves. And he was transfigured before them, and his clothes became dazzling white, such as no fuller on earth could bleach them. Then Elijah appeared to them along with Moses, and they were conversing with Jesus.

Then Peter said to Jesus in reply, “Rabbi, it is good that we are here! Let us make three tents: one for you, one for Moses, and one for Elijah.” He hardly knew what to say, they were so terrified.

Then a cloud came, casting a shadow over them; from the cloud came a voice, “This is my beloved Son. Listen to him.” Suddenly, looking around, they no longer saw anyone but Jesus alone with them.

As they were coming down from the mountain, he charged them not to relate what they had seen to anyone, except when the Son of Man had risen from the dead. So they kept the matter to themselves, questioning what rising from the dead meant.

The Daily Path: Today is the birthday of my late grandmother, Florence Irene Kindlen, or as she was known to me and the rest of her grandchildren… Nana. Every March 8, Nana and I have a little birthday chat, just as we did when she was alive, because my birthday is the following day. I do the talking, but I know she hears me. Occasionally I will “feel” her response. I want to share a little bit about Nana because not only was she the best grandmother who ever set foot on this earth, she was also an example of living a Godly life.

When Nana married her beloved Irishman, Jim (James Aloysius) Kindlen, she did not share the Catholic faith of her husband. Nor was she compelled to run out and enlist. However, she raised her children as Catholics. Years later, Nana did convert to Catholicism and held a deep devotion to the Sacred Heart of Jesus. Each Sunday, and often during the week, she would attend Mass at St. Joseph’s Basilica, sitting directly in front of a statue of the Sacred Heart while faithfully praying for her family. I can assure you that there was much to pray for!

Nana always wore two things that became her trademark… a hat and a smile. That smile could melt the hardest heart. She tirelessly raised money for the parish schools and was genuinely loved by everyone who crossed her path. When her little gold donation box came out, wallets opened. Her unpretentious charm disarmed friends and strangers alike. No one could resist her.

After Grandpa died in 1957, my grandmother began to travel around the U.S. with her siblings. She loved to take trips. As a boy I would spend hours watching travel logs with her on the black & white TV. She always sent me postcards, even when her trip was just across the bay to San Francisco. I still treasure those cards to this day. Nana didn’t drive but she got about quite nicely riding the AC Transit bus system. The drivers all knew her by name. She’d take me to Oakland back in the day when it rivaled San Francisco with its major department stores and bustling downtown. Our excursions would always include a stop at the toy department and lunch room at Capwell’s Department Store. We’d sit amidst the fashionable “ladies who did lunch.” Nana would have a cup of tea and I’d have a peanut butter and jelly sandwich with chocolate milk.

As the times grew more dangerous, she became a target for thieves who preyed on senior citizens. She was mugged by purse snatchers on three occasions as she waited for the bus. Although injured by these violent acts, I never saw her hardened by them. I can only assume that it was her great love and unwavering faith in Jesus that enabled her to forgive. If there was ever an example of living forgiveness, Nana was it. She just wouldn’t allow herself to harbor hatred. I think that was part of her charm. The genuine twinkle in her eyes showed love. Her smile offered shelter.

Eventually Nana stopped riding the bus, although she remained active. Her young friends (in their 60’s) would still drive “The Sunshine Chairman” about. She continued to take shorter trips with the local senior citizen groups. Florence Kindlen was 96 when she passed away after a short illness in November 1991. There is no doubt in my mind that the gates of Heaven were immediately opened as she left this earth on the Express Bus. And I know that Jesus was waiting to welcome her at the threshold because in life she listened to Him and lived what He taught. 

Happy Birthday Nana. I love you.