Friday, August 17, 2007

The measurement of grace

As a child I would frequently spend the night at my grandparents’ house along with three of my cousins who were all are around my age. Every night after a day full of playing and surely some fighting my grandmother would give us all baths, dry us off and put us in pajamas. And the pajamas were of the super-hero variety.

They were not Batman or Superman or any of the others. They were my grandfather’s old shirts. And as she would pull them over my head I could smell my grandfather’s aftershave. There was always comfort in that smell. I was the biggest little boy in the world with his shirt on.

I always knew I was growing up simply by where the lower hem of his shirt reached my body. First down to the ankles, then down to the calves, then to the knees. I measured my growth as a boy by the consistency of his size.

And in the morning we would all assemble in the breakfast room where my grandmother would have put together a veritable feast (she always made us menus the night before and we each got to check off what we wanted. And it would always be made just the way we “ordered it. Every. Single. Time!) and there would be Granddaddy, in his chair, waiting for his grandkids. And when I would reach up to give him a morning hug I would notice just how strong my Granddaddy was. I measured my strength as a boy by the consistency of his embrace.

And on Sunday mornings when he would preach he would look into the congregation and find his family. And from the pulpit he would ask us to stand. As we stood I would well up with such pride. It was my Granddaddy taking time to say hello to me. To me! I measured my pride as a boy by the consistency of his acknowledgement.

And just after 9/11/01, I went to Texas for a three week visit. My grandfather asked if he could take me to lunch. He asked me to recount what that terrible day in September was like. He was the only member of my family to do so. And as I told him the horror he listened intently and said “You’re the only person I know who was there. That took a lot of courage son. You are a strong young man. I am so proud of you”. I measured my worth as a young man by the consistency of his love.

And somewhere in the not so distant future the memories will be all I have. And the day will come and he will leave. And the chains will loosen and he will be set free from the confines of his now frail body. And the man I adored all my life will be before the God for whom he lived his life. And the gates will be open, the angels will rejoice and my grandfather will enter…measured by the consistency of His grace.

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