Thank you to Two Writing Teachers for providing space as a place for reflection each week.
The Saints Among Us
Our minister poses questions for the congregation to answer and share in church. Last spring it was “Why Church?” This fall it’s been the topic of saints in our lives. “Why Church?” was fun to write and share. First of all, I haven’t been a regular church attendee all my life. I find church, indoors or outdoors, wherever I am. It wasn’t until stumbling into my current church that I began to attend in a more regular manner. But who are my saints? Much more difficult. In fact, I planned to skip this opportunity. But my minister contacted me and asked if I would. So this is what I shared this past Sunday.
Two people who have had a spiritual impact on my life are Mom and my dad’s mother, Grandma Mac. If I were asked about a person no longer alive that I would like to have lunch with, these two would be on the list.
My parents married under a cloud of controversy for 1948. Dad’s family were Presbyterians and Mom’s were Catholics. There were a lot of whispers and behind the scenes chatter. Even the Grandma I consider a part of my spiritual path felt her son would have found one of his own kind, had he gone to church more. Within six months Mom and Dad moved from the east coast to the west coast, forging their own life.
Mom decided on becoming a Presbyterian after giving birth to my brother and me. Trust me, the Catholic guilt didn’t leave her upon conversion. Her family wasn’t too happy. But Mom was strong in her beliefs about raising children and it certainly wasn’t going to be with two religions. However, when her mom visited, I did get to go to Sunday Mass. I found it fascinating.
Mom modeled the things we learn in church: humility, kindness, love, and hope. She’d go the extra mile to make someone’s day or to speak out. Dad said of her that her priorities were in this order: patients (she was a nurse) came first, then family, and then herself. Her one tiny thing for herself was the weekly visit to the beauty parlor. She also questioned authority and while she might not have used the words “social justice”, I believe these were her gifts given to me.
When I divorced my first husband, she was there for me. And I remember her sending a note telling me to do what makes me happy and not to worry what others think.
She often reminded us that “God gave us two ears and one mouth to use accordingly.”
Because of Sadie Rush MacCulloch, her six female descendants have the middle name of “Rush” after Benjamin Rush, our distant relative. I like referring to us as the “Rush MacCulloch.”
Grandma Mac was known to greet each morning with a “Hello, World” and then say “This is the day that the Lord has made; let us rejoice and be glad in it.” (Psalm 118: 24). It’s a practice I continue today.
I remember her quoting Shakespeare, “to thine own self, be true, And it must follow, as the night the day, Thou canst not then be false to any man.”
Grandma Mac nudged me through letters to be active in church as a child. She nudged my education and my love of reading and writing. Her active participation in her church served as a model for me. (although I didn’t always follow it.)
Grandma Mac instilled the concept of faith and the power of prayer. When I graduated from Lewis and Clark College, she was there. She leaned over to Mom and said, “I’ve seen everything I want to see.” Two weeks later, she was gone.
She had returned to California with a protruding abdomen. Upon seeing the doctor, went into the hospital. My parents and brother had traveled to Hawaii (she wouldn’t hear of them canceling their trip) and her daughter was on the east coast. I was the only person home with her and scheduled to leave the next day back to Oregon.
I visited her in the hospital. We talked. She asked me about my boyfriend. And then, when I told her I would be back in the morning. She said, “Not to worry about visiting.” In the middle of the night, I got the phone call that she had died after saying prayers aloud.
During the trying times of my first marriage, Grandma Mac often visited me in dreams as if to remind me “to thine own self, be true”.
for my heart
©jone rush macculloch