loving lavishly

My nieces, adorable and pink and puffy in their winter jackets and woollen hats, trundle outside to play in the snow too new to stick. They wear a little button of my Nonna’s face on their jacket. Some thoughtful cousin of mine gave them to all the kids, a gentle reminder of who we lost a year ago. How I love these two darlings and how different they are from each other. The one smiles pretty as a princess, the other sticks out her tongue and growls like a cornered wild boar. I watch how gently and patiently my brother negotiates sharing between the sisters. I smile at their lovely Mum, carting the baby around the kitchen island, with professional ease she preps a veritable feast for fifteen. How? How? I wonder. How does she do it?IMG_3276

Little Michael, named after my father, my nephew, I meet you for the first time. Three months old. The only boy. I stare into your dark searching eyes. Your little brow crinkles up, just like him. Just like him. I hold you in my arms and kiss you. I sing a lullaby. I am holding you and I am also holding a corner of my father’s heart: newborn. Helpless. Full of promise. Maybe Christ came as a child to remind us we are also this.

Beyond my brother’s warm and accepting house, my greater family spreads out by the dozens in brick houses filled with crystal and marble and double fridges, all over town. Being Italian, we have all sorts of metaphors for bread and for wine. “I took bread from my children to give to him”, “Even if I only have one piece of bread left, you and me, we break it in half”, “Good bread is hard. The English like it soft. Like cake.” I fly home after a wonderful and complicated visit.images

Today in church my United church minister makes it very clear we are all welcome to partake of the bread and the wine, no matter what our questions, no matter what our beliefs, no matter what our list of sacraments. So I do. I take the bread. I take the wine. It is given freely to me. Imagine that. No added tax. Me and the prodigal son and Martha and Mary and the good son and the goats and the sheep.

As I mull it around my mouth, making my breath sweet, I listen to Hosanna Hosanna Hosanna – all the ladies sing.

God, how wondrous. Throughout the ages, how you have charged us to love each other lavishly.Unknown



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