I have two wonderful grandmothers. One lives in northern Minnesota on a beautiful little lake on a bay covered with lily pads. The other, my namesake, passed away over a year and a half ago. She, Grandma Faye, was the sort of woman who could do anything she set her mind to. When I was young, I slept under the quilt she made for me, a quilt covered with brightly-colored stars. She baked and knitted, sewed and beaded, went camping and downhill skied. She told us stories of her nursing days as a young woman and of learning to dance on her dad’s wood floor as an even younger woman. And whatever projects she had underway when we were around, she shared them with us. We got to be part of her world, and a colorful world it was.
Only a handful of years before she died, Grandma Faye decided she wanted to try her hand at poetry. I remember listening to her read her first short poems to us. Anyone could tell she was proud of her work and excited to share it. One poem was about a dog; another, about going for a walk. The poems were story-like, with familiar content told in her own sing-song way. And, though she never explained exactly why, she always signed her poems, “The Wind and I.” I liked that my 80-year-old grandmother had a slightly mysterious side to her.
As a Christian, Grandma Faye pursued God with her characteristic vigor. But God was not just another one of her “projects.” She loved studying the Bible and memorizing verses, especially God’s promises (I remember printing off Bible verses in large print for her when she began to lose her eyesight later in life), but Grandma Faye was only able to walk by faith in God because she had been born of the Spirit of God. The Greek word for “spirit” is pneuma and can also be translated “wind.” I like to think that her signature, “The Wind and I,” was her self-conscious witness to the work of God in her life. In John 3:8, Jesus says…
“The wind blows where it wishes, and you hear its sound, but you do not know where it comes from or where it goes. So it is with everyone who is born of the Spirit.”
Just before Grandma Faye died in February of 2011, I wrote her a poem for her 87th birthday and called it “At Grandma’s House.” It was an attempt to capture my childhood perspective of this wonderful woman.
Even though I can’t bake dinner rolls with Grandma Faye anymore, she still lives, and she lives as much more than a shadow in my memory. Heaven is not just a “nice idea” to help people cope with losing their loved ones. Hell is just as real, and eternal life with God is secure only for those who have been “born of the Spirit” and walk by faith in the sure promises of God.
“For we know that if the tent that is our earthly home is destroyed, we have a building from God, a house not made with hands, eternal in the heavens. For in this tent we groan, longing to put on our heavenly dwelling … so that what is mortal may be swallowed up by life. He who has prepared us for this very thing is God, who has given us the Spirit as a guarantee. So we are always of good courage. We know that while we are at home in the body we are away from the Lord, for we walk by faith, not by sight.”
“Yes, we are of good courage, and we would rather be away from the body and at home with the Lord. So whether we are at home or away, we make it our aim to please him” (2 Corinthians 5:1-2, 4-9).
And that is the story behind the label for my poetry posts here.
Making it my aim to please Him, just like Grandma Faye did,