My Grandma passed away last week.
Grandma was a saint. Whether it was the way she hosted the holidays – cooking a fantastic meal, making sure everyone felt included, keeping up to date on all of our lives – or the way she took care of her own disabled child into adulthood and her own husband as his health declined, or how she served her faith community for over 30 years, I truly don't know anyone as self-less as Grandma was. She had lost concern for herself, and lived fully to serve God and others. She had become a saint.
In many ways I owe Grandma for my own spiritual journey. Her strong faith, and the way she raised her children in the church, affected how my own parents raised me. Although I have moved on from the religious structures I inherited, it was there where I began my journey.
As I continue this blog, most who resonate with my thoughts will be those who see themselves as "spiritual but not religious," those who may have moved beyond, or maybe have never been a part of, traditional western religious structures. Contemplative spiritual practice tends to lend itself to a positive outlook on other faiths, a kind of openness to "universal spirituality," which is sometimes threatening to those who are part of traditional structures.
But these structures can, and do, still work for many people. My Grandma held very traditional beliefs about Jesus, the Bible, Salvation, etc. She was nourished by the Christian scriptures, by sermons based on those scriptures, and by the body of Christ. Traditional Christian beliefs and practices were part of what formed her character – what caused her to become self-less and completely other oriented.
The experience of God can be accompanied by a host of different beliefs. Some of those beliefs I agree with and some of them I do not. Some of them I even find harmful if taken to their logical conclusions. But just because a certain system doesn't "work" for me, doesn't mean it doesn't work for others. It certainly did for Grandma.
Grandma's funeral ended with her favorite song, How Great Thou Art. Rest in peace Grandma. Thank you for the light you brought to our family. We love you so much.