12/18/2010

Anne, the Sainted Mother...

Concerning Anne, the Sainted Mother:  No, not that one -  Anne Harris, a saint for putting up with three boys, four if you count her husband, Ed, and still retaining her humor and joy for living. Driving us boys once in New Orleans, she said, looking at us all grown up, "Ah, the products of my loins!"  Of course we all went, "Aw, Anne!"

Anne is now in her early nineties, cranking on towards 93, and surfs the Internet from her room in the health care wing of a fine retirement community in Delaware.  She is a computer whiz, always at work on new computer art, and when not doing that she reads a lot on her Kindle, or hits the news and various games on her iPad.

The Angel of Death, by Anne E. Harris
She is quite aware, and at peace with the presence of the Angel of Death, who waits. Sometimes she believes death waits too patiently and just wishes the curtain would come down. And then, when it doesn't, she says, "Oh well," or sometimes "Dammy" and gets back to knitting or reading or painting.

With Christmas coming on I am aware of what a gift she is to us all. All the boys have memories of her from childhood. One of mine is of breakfast at our home in Caracas - fresh baguettes that came daily by bike from the bakery and cheese that came once a week or so by burro. 

The bread was skillet toasted, until the crunchy buttered side was deep brown. Anne, the Sainted Mother, often burned the toast, but we all loved it, claiming that the carbon taste was the best. With that we would have cheese and a bit of jam, and a slice or two of hard sausage.  And coffee (for children with lots of milk). 

So this morning I was making comfort breakfast on a cold grey Lewes day, and voila - the smells and tastes came back.  And with them the knowledge that Anne, the sainted mother, connects me still to small gifts in the present and in memory.  

Here at Preludium, as everywhere, Advent is coming to a close and Christmas is at hand. There might be one or two more posts prior to Christmas. (I know I have a kind of clean-up piece in the works.) But it is time to stand back, shut-up, and relax into the multi-level incarnation of the whole cloud of witnesses living and dead that make up the Christmas feast, and focus on our odd and wonderful sense that The Source of Everything - the unnameable One - is known in our relation to a real human being, Jesus, who being human did nothing we cannot do, but being the Source of Everything incarnate, did it with, let us say, a certain panache.  "In him," the saying goes, "all the fullness of God was pleased to dwell." 

I am of a mind to say that that fullness is available in all of us, but only if we look in the small places. We don't make very good universal saviors, or even very good lovers, but we do sometimes shine with the glory of God in very small and unremarkable ways.  Mostly, I think, in little signs of hospitality. 

"Have some bread and cheese," she said. And when I sat and ate, did not my heart glow within me?

Well, it was a little heart, and that was long ago. But the breakfast this morning recalled that breakfast, and little acts today reflect those we received. 

There are confoundedly big words and thoughts on the whole matter of God talk, theology. But what good are they if they do not show how breakfast remembers breakfast, and the hospitable moment the love shown us by the saints of God, living and dead?

So, off to do the last few blogging items prior to Christmas. 

May you have hope at Christmas, and memories to fortify you for the days ahead.

5 comments:

  1. Mark, what a lovely trubute to Anne, the Sainted Mother.

    I love your seasonal reflection, that it's about incarnation, that which we can see, feel, touch, hear, and smell, and the wonderful memories triggered by our present day senses.

    A blessed and happy Christmas to you and yours.

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  2. I love living tributes--especially the ones displaying the many kindnesses of the beloved--what a creative and wonderful Mama you have--the memories continue to build on everyones personal histories.

    Merry Christmas to the Harris Clam--all of them!

    Leonardo Ricardo

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  3. whoops! CLAN! Sorry, my eyesight still isn´t 100% after the surgeries.

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  4. Mark
    Wonderful post! Just out of curiosity...does the Sainted mother read a "kindle" or does she follow Anglican pundits like "Kendall"? (see second paragraph, next to the last line).
    Freudian slip?
    ;-)

    Santa

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  5. Oh, dear,

    It's at times like these that the Kingdom of God comes near, where human love treads on the ground, where human hearts are rended by the real or impending loss of those we love. How I regret not turning back and spending more time with my father the last time I met with him! Without doubt will he escort me into the realm of angels when it's my time. How amazing is it, that love has no recognition of the boundary between life and death.

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