My sister is a saint. Having threads in most religions, the term “saint” has a wide variety of meanings, depending on the religion or denomination and its usage.
The original Christian connotation referred to any believer who put faith in Christ. In Orthodox and Catholic teachings, all Christians in heaven were considered saints, but some were deemed to be worthy of a higher honor because of their character or deeds.
In debating that age-old “nature versus nurture” question, does someone display virtues such as patience or kindness because it is their nature, or are they characteristics that have been learned over time? Perhaps, as in the case of my sister, it is a little of both.
Perhaps she learned by taking care of our mother and grandmother. Because she lived less than a block from their house, my sister became the quickest responder to problems and joys and the fears of growing older.
Grass needed to be cut. The grocery store needed to be visited. Doctors needed to be seen. Hair needed to be cut and curled and colored.
My sister was always there, providing a car and a ride, a lawn mower and a push, or a shoulder and a tear.
When difficult decisions had to be made, my sister harbored the weight of the anchor. When memories faded and patience grew thin, hers did not.
When harsh words were inadvertently spoken, whispers of hope and love were given in return. When the frustrations of age and the lack of independence ruled the day, she allowed love to reign supreme.
Perhaps she learned by being a teacher. When she was a little girl, she set up a classroom of teddy bears and Barbie dolls as students. After more than 30 years of teaching high school, she probably wishes she had just a smidgen of the compliance of a stuffed animal in the desks.
She patiently teaches correct grammar to those who don’t use it, the love for literature to video gamers, the ability to communicate to those who would rather grunt and nod. She teaches and reteaches because that is how she, and so many other dedicated educators, show their love for the coming generation and their respect for those who taught before.
Perhaps she learned by having children, and now a grandchild. There probably isn’t a better greenhouse for the fruits of patience and kindness than the living room of a home. From diapers to diplomas, a mother lovingly instructs, patiently waits up past curfew, hopefully preparing the child for the rigors of their own adult adventure. My sister worked hard to display consistent love to her children, opening her home to significant others and welcoming new families and a new grandchild. Love is threaded through every touch, each word and moments of hope.
Perhaps she learned by sitting at the feet of God, His fingerprints over all that she is. She learned at a very early age the wonders of the grace of God, and has spent years trying to display that grace to others. She has been faithful to God as she serves alongside her husband, as she has raised her children to revere God, and as she has been known for her loving heart.
If there are stars in crowns in heaven, my sister’s crown will look like the sky. If there are rewards to be enjoyed, if there are thank-you’s to be said, if there are words of praise to be heard, “Well done, faithful and loving servant” will be trumpeted across streets of gold for the patience and kindness shown by my sister.
Big brother has learned lots from little sister about this love of another kind
— Tom May is the Minister of Discipleship at Eastside Christian Church in Jeffersonville. He is an adjunct instructor in the Communications Department at Indiana University Southeast.