This week, if she were still alive, my grandmother would have celebrated her 112th birthday, or her 115th, or possibly her 120th. The truth is: No one in my family knew Grandma’s exact age. As she told it, she changed her birth certificate to make herself older so she could emigrate from Eastern Europe to the United States. She hoped to join other family, already in New York, although she didn’t know exactly how to find them.
When I think about her journey, I’m awed by her faith and spiritual strength, and especially, her trust in God. What courage it took for a teenage girl, whatever her age, to leave everything she knew behind and sail alone to the promise of a better life. When she spoke about that journey, she admitted that the obstacles and uncertainty were daunting.
Her journey reminds me of what Jesus tells the disciples (Matthew 17:20-21):
“. . . If you have faith the size of a mustard seed, you will say to this mountain, ‘Move from here to there,’ and it will move; and nothing will be impossible for you.”
With faith, nothing is impossible for us. When we remember that we have an infinite supply of faith within us — we never need pray for more — we can nurture this precious gift and use it to transform ourselves and our experiences.
Just as my grandmother did, we sometimes find ourselves travelling without a clear road map. Whether literally or figuratively, we may get thrown off course or need to leave a place we once called home. Yet, as we go forward, one faithful step at a time, we realize: We are free. Free to choose what is best for us, even when the choices aren’t our favorites.
The truth is: Only when we relinquish our power to choose, do we believe that we’ve lost our faith. As we travel, we can remember: Events and circumstances have far less power over us when we exercise our freedom to choose who we truly are, what and whom we truly love, how we want to live, and how we want to share ourselves with the world.
I know that was true for my grandmother. When she arrived, she found her brothers in New York. She worked as a milliner, making ladies’ hats at a famous department store. She met my grandfather and had two children, my father and my aunt. She lived 88 years, give or take some birthdays. In all the years I knew her, I saw a woman centered in her faith. Even when she didn’t like what was happening in her world or the world around her, even when she succumbed to the pain of cancer.
Faith the size of a mustard seed. That’s all it takes to move forward, with strength and courage, trusting that transformation is unfolding before us.
A Blessed Independence Day to All!
© 2016 – Rev. Jennifer L. Sacks. All rights reserved.