THE KITCHEN TABLE – A ministry of Sister Care
The innocence of children is a quality that Jesus affirmed in His ministry saying, “Unless you become like little children you cannot come into the kingdom.” As grandmas we sense the wonderment in how our young grandchildren experience and verbalize their thoughts and often observe a spiritual depth far beyond their years. We love to tell these stories about our grandchild and you guessed it . I have one to share.
In a recent conversation with our seven-year old grandson who lives some 500 miles from us, he stated that he was fasting that day. It was meal time and we had been traveling four hours in the car since leaving his parents at our meeting place in Ohio. It was just he and I in the back seat. His parents prepared us about the fasting issue when we met them, explaining that a sermon about fasting was recently given at the church by our son. Our grandson apparently had been listening as he played at the pew. He had refused a doughnut at breakfast informing them he would be fasting that day.
Grandma: “What is fasting?”
Grandson: “The way I understand it is you go without food and then you will feel closer to God.”
Grandma: “Do you feel closer to God today?”
Grandson: “Yea, I think I do.”
Grandma: “What is that like, to feel closer to God?”
Grandson: “Well, I didn’t really see God with my eyes. I just sort of feel Him in my heart.”
As he looked into my eyes, pointing to his chest, I had the sense it was one of those Kingdom-moments. Later when we stopped for food, he announced his fasting was over.
Our role as a grandparent takes on a different focus then that of a parent. Being on the fringes of a busy society allows us to spend time with the grandchildren while the middle generation is involved with survival. As our physical abilities ebb, we become more relaxed and contemplative, giving space to reflect on the mysteries of life, the same issues that children are preoccupied with. There is time to offer meaning to life in ways that busier people cannot fit into their schedule.
Mothers look at their children from a practical, protective, instructive point of view. Are they dressed and ready to leave the house in time to be dropped off at the day care before getting to work? Did they eat healthy foods today? Are they coming down with a fever? Are they in bed on time? Grandparents see the little people from a distance and view the unique character traits and wonder who they will grow up to be.
In a recent study it was found that today’s grandparents spent 40% more time with their grandchildren than previous generations. And grandparents do influence their grandchildren. Last month at our church Prime Timers’ gathering we were asked to bring something old and tell why it had meaning for us. It was amazing how many in this 50+ group chose an item that sparked a memory of a grandparent, describing a characteristic they admired or were influenced by.
Our grandchildren are observing our lives. We are passing on values and morals. Are we passing on the virtues of Spirit fruit, like love, tolerance, compassion, reverence, joy, peace, gentleness, goodness, faith and kindness? Do they see us giving volunteer time to good and worthy causes? Do they see our faith in Christ is a deep and meaningful relationship? How do they see us respond to other drivers who pull out in front of us? How do we demonstrate our stewardship values in our gift giving?
The greatest gift we can give our grandchildren is our blessing. This blessing can be as informal as hearing their name mentioned in a mealtime or bedtime prayer. As they grow older an opportunity for more formal blessings can be part of graduations, weddings or other mile stone events.
National Grandparent’s Day is observed the first Sunday following Labor Day. We owe this day of celebration to the work of Marian McQuade of West Virginia. After the request was passed by Congress in August of 1978, President Carter signed the proclamation. The statute cites the day’s purpose as: “…to honor grandparents, to give grandparents an opportunity to show love for their children’s children, and to help children become aware of strength, information, and guidance older people can offer”.
Lorraine Eby, Sister Care Coordinator
Franklin Mennonite Conference