Yesterday was a rough day. We witnessed my grandmother—born in a small Italian village at the end of the first world war—being put to rest after a rich 98-year-and-4-month life. Growing up, I often heard stories of how strong she was, both physically and otherwise, lifting bundles of firewood and handling harvest baskets as well as any man in the village, working long days for her family. Her kids (my father and his siblings) were always best-dressed and well-fed thanks to her attention, remarkable also since her husband had emigrated to Canada to pave the way for the rest of the family.
Here in Canada, she practically raised me and my brother and sister. But we didn’t know about her rough past; just that she loved us, had a sweet singing voice, and made the most delicious vegetable soup, spicy bean stew, and almond cookies.
Yesterday, sitting in the church for her funeral, I contemplated the wonderful people around me who—for about half of us—would not exist were it not for her strength and love. As the choir started singing some harmonious lament, something amazing happened: my grandma Letizia gave me yet another gift: she taught me about God.
Why do people go to church? Why do people feel the need to praise God, as if he needed praising? I thought about myself, and the things I love and am proud of about myself. Those things make me feel good, and even though I know these things about myself, it always makes me feel good to remember them. I feel love when I remember my mother reading her mother’s day card from us. I love delivering a work project, because I know that I set a goal to achieve something, and then achieved it. These things make me feel good, and remembering them reminds me that I’m happy to be alive.
God must feel the same way; he created everything in the universe, so every now and then it must make him feel good to be reminded how great everything is. My grandmother reminded me that God is everything and everywhere; all of existence—every single cell of our bodies and atoms surrounding us—is God. God is literally praising himself when we’re in church.
The choir singers were wonderful; far better than could be expected from my little church and not-very-catholic community. I remembered all the people who dedicate their lives to God and doing good in their communities because they believe God would like that. Then my grandma reminded me that doing something for someone else, rather than yourself, infuses it with some magic that makes it better. Visiting our grandma on Sundays, she pulled out all the stops and always made a gigantic, delicious, and healthy meal for us. We spent the entire afternoon eating and chatting, mostly about how delicious everything was. Grandma’s love for us added magic to those meals, and when she cooked them for us, we could taste it. I doubt that she went through all that trouble when cooking for herself.
Thank you, Grandma
So, in that church, standing next to my grandma’s remains, and wondering who those choir singers were singing for… I realized they were singing for God. Doing something for someone you love adds magic, and if you truly believe that person is perfect—is God… you must really give it one thousand percent.
The kind of magic that comes from dedicating yourself to something for someone else must be infinitely stronger when it’s dedicated to God. Faith is a powerful force, and I felt the sweet notes of that church choir infused with so much love and praise.
These lessons helped me appreciate my grandma even more.
Thank you, Grandma. Love you.
Author’s Note: this was originally published on Steemit in early 2017.
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