Thursday, November 10, 2011

Channeling Uncle Orrie?

My Mema, Lucy (Lucia), was one of six children who immigrated from northern Italy in the early 1900s.  Her siblings were Orrie, Anna, (Lucy,) Lee, Ray and Tony. I knew them all, which is to say I knew their names and they - sometimes - knew mine. The eldest, Orrie, I felt I knew the least.  He already seemed ancient by the time I was a child in the family.  He was kind but didn't speak much to us.  In fact, the sole reason he remains in my memory is his truck.  Dark blue, probably a Ford...something akin to the image on the right...and covered with "Jesus Saves" signs.

I didn't really know Uncle Orrie's story.  I didn't know what converted him from his Roman Catholic Christian upbringing to that of Evangelical Christian.  It didn't really matter.  All that mattered was that he drove that truck all over Jacksonville, Florida trying to save people's souls.

Now truth be told, I always thought he was a little nuts...or at least in the sense that "I have an eccentric relative who thinks his truck and bullhorn are gonna make a difference" kind of nuts.  And because I have never been a prosthelitizing kind of gal, it made me a little uncomfortable, even as a child.  It's not that I'm ashamed of my Christianity.  But I feel I may be imposing on those who might not believe.

A few nights ago, we had one of my daughter's best friends, a source of light and joy in our family for ten years, over for dinner.  Her parents were out of town because her grandfather was deathly ill. I had been checking in with her and her sister, and she was excited to come eat some risotto in her parents' absence.  Before we ate, I had that same moment of doubt regarding prayer since I don't know what her family believes.  But I thought to myself, "This family needs prayer right now," and so I asked if I could pray for her grandfather.  She said yes so I did.

The next morning when I opened the door to receive her for carpool to school, her face tear-stained and sorrowful, she ran into my arms and wept as she told me her "BuPa" had passed away in the night.  I recalled my Mema's passing just a few short years ago and told her I was so sorry she wasn't there to share family stories and be with her parents.  She cried until she was all cried out.  I told her to come back later if she needed to unload more since I am the perfect size shoulder for her to cry on...we're both under 5'...which made her laugh. As she was leaving for school, she turned and said to me, voice cracking, "Thank you for praying for us last night.  It meant so much to me."  I was stunned.

Oh, the hundreds of times I've missed an opportunity to make a difference in someone's life and heart by hesitating and choosing not to pray.  I need to remember that these moments of amazing grace are within me - within all of us - to impact the people we love, the people we don't love, the people we don't even know.  I'm so grateful I finally listened to this call to bless a child, a friend.  And I didn't even need a bullhorn.

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