Scripture: Psalm 103: 2-4 — My whole being, praise the Lord and do not forget all his kindness. He forgives all my sins and heals all my diseases. He saves my life from the grave and loads me with love and mercy.
I recently returned from a trip to Minnesota where I was asked to perform the memorial service for my beloved Aunt Nita.
Anita was my mom’s brother’s wife – she was an individual who cared deeply for others.
Uncle Pete and Aunt Anita were very different than my family. They were younger than my parents and Uncle Pete was an artistic sort and spoke a different language and had a different life style; you might say he was one “Cool Cat.”
Aunt Nita, though, was from the earth — her father was a truck farmer and his children worked in the fields from a very early age. She was as solid as the earth they grew their vegetables in.
Our families lived fairly close together, so the gatherings with our grandparents and Aunties and Uncles were frequent and blessed occasions. Nita lived to be a great age of 89, Uncle Pete passed two years earlier.
They were dedicated to one another, yet it was a relationship that had its share of problems.
My Uncle Pete was an alcoholic, a disease that could have led him down a path of separation and loneliness. Ultimately it was my Aunt Nita’s strength and love for him that shouted this behavior had to stop.
This became the turning point in their life. The spiritual connection my Uncle Pete discovered in a 12-step program known as AA and the dedication they had for one another helped my Uncle discover God in a new light.
Pete and Nita both became strong mentors in the AA program, inviting people of all ages into their home, assisting however they could to find their way back to a place of love. They became people who told their stories – it became a time of coming clean and letting go of secrets.
It became a time of deep confession and seeking forgiveness of all those who were hurt during the difficult time of darkness in my Uncle’s life.
As a teen I will never forget the impact this had on me. Pete and Nita had become my heroes – adults who knew they had to clean up after their own mess. I heard them apologize to others, I saw their lives change completely.
The above scripture passage takes me into this Sacred Memory of a God who is filled with kindness, and a Creator who forgives all our sins and heals that which torments us.
But the frosting on the cake for me is; this God loves us so much he gives us a way out of death, and loads us up with love and mercy, so we can live a life of fulfillment.
Prayer: Loving God, I am grateful for the people in my life who have shown me by example a way to wholeness. For this I say thank you.
Nancy E. McCormick is Co-Pastor of Chester and Springfield Friends.