I started humming, Abide with Me as soon as I read that today’s advent word was “abide.” There are a few classic hymns that stick with me, and this is one of them. It seemed equally fitting that today, my Gramma would have been 98 years old. I have written often about her…her memory is an abiding presence in my life.
Abide with me; fast falls the eventide;
The darkness deepens; Lord, with me abide;
When other helpers fail and comforts flee,
Help of the helpless, oh, abide with me.
I have spent precious and sacred hours with those who are at the end of their lives, including Gramma. One of the things I have learned is that there is a difference between “abiding” and “clinging” either to life, or to a loved one. It’s natural to want to cling…to get one more kiss, a few more words. Hours and even minutes become precious. I certainly wanted to cling. It was hard to say “good-bye” and we are not programmed for it in our culture. We flee from the loss of control and helplessness of death. But, we are not alone. And we do not need to say “good-bye” to love. Love…sourced in the depth of God’s eternal changelessness…abides with us.
Swift to its close ebbs out life’s little day;
Earth’s joys grow dim, its glories pass away;
Change and decay in all around I see—
O Thou who changest not, abide with me.
When I remember my Gramma, I think about how much I loved and looked up to her when I was young. I remember visiting and her saying, “go get my purse…” so that I could count out all the pennies and take them with me. I remember the gleam in her eyes when she was joking, and the one look with which she could instill total good behavior in me and my cousins. She was a strong woman, always. She modeled independence and confident leadership as I moved with her through her world. Her lessons abide in me. I treasure them like I treasured her presence.
Hold Thou Thy cross before my closing eyes;
Shine through the gloom and point me to the skies;
Heav’n’s morning breaks, and earth’s vain shadows flee;
In life, in death, O Lord, abide with me.
Tonight, love abides. I close my eyes and imagine I am baking a lemon bundt cake which was a family birthday staple. The heavy, cast-iron pan has been flipped, and the molded pastry sits on the pedestal glass cake plate. I am mixing up the glaze that I will drizzle on top, trying to get it to run down the sides in perfect drips like Gramma’s always did. There is ice cream in the freezer…birthdays deserve both cake AND ice cream. What kind? Neapolitan, of course. Everyone has at least one favorite kind that way. Glasses of Schwann’s triple berry punch all around, too. It is Gramma’s birthday, after all.
In response to the AdventWord global advent calendar project with the Society for St. John the Evangelist. Today’s word: #abide. Follow the worldwide advent calendar at: http://www.aco.org/adventword.cfm