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Letters from Home: Another year gone

By Rev. Ann Mann
annmann@comcast.net

Another year has come and gone. It is hard to believe it has been a year since we welcomed my sweet grandson into the world. As I reflect on these past twelve months, I am amazed at how quickly our lives have changed.

From cradling a precious bundle of joy, content to rest in my arms, to a toddler who walks so fast it is hard to keep up! The change has been nothing short of remarkable.

Oh, the joy of life’s simplest pleasures. Despite the boxes stacked around my house, remnants of tasks put on hold since my husband’s passing, my grandson does not seem to mind.

I am at that stage where I am sorting things into “keep,” “discard” and “donate” piles. JJ loves to pick up whatever is in those bins and move it to another bin. And then he joyously moves them back. And back again. And in those moments, I couldn’t be happier.

Just watching him is pure joy. Because I realize now, perhaps more than I ever have, how precious these moments are. I look from JJ to his mom (my baby girl), and I can’t believe how time flies. It was just yesterday, wasn’t it, that she was that toddler with insatiable curiosity?

Now I see her carrying forward that legacy of love from one generation to the next. There is an indescribable joy watching your child become a parent. Watching how they love and care for this life they have created. Seeing what they carry from their own childhood into this next generation.

Recently, we were in a bookstore and stumbled open a sale offering “buy one, get one half off” on board books. She picked out all her favorites, the ones her daddy and I had read to her as a child. What a joy to buy these classics for JJ. The Velveteen Rabbit was one of the books she chose.

If you are not familiar with the story, it is about a little boy who receives a Velveteen Rabbit as a gift. But the rabbit sits on the shelf while the boy plays with other more modern toys. Until one night, when the child’s favorite toy is lost, the nanny places the rabbit in the boy’s bed. The rabbit soon becomes the boy’s favorite.

In short, it tells the tale of a toy rabbit whose journey to becoming “real” is not based on appearance or trendiness but on the depth of love shared. You are real when you love and are loved in return. During this Easter season, I find some parallels between the story of The Velveteen Rabbit and the greatest story ever told, the story of Jesus Christ, a story of humility, love, and redemption.

If you are unfamiliar with the story, check out the Gospel of John. Christ entered the world humble and good. He was faithful to His Father. And everywhere he went, lives were changed. He brought good news to the poor. He healed the sick. He restored sight to the blind. He set the captives free. Through his finished work on the cross, he brings redemption to all who believe.

This is what real love looks like. As modern-day followers (or disciples) of Christ, we are called to love others as Christ loves us. We are called to be faithful.

Being a faithful follower of Christ is not a promise that life will be easy. I know this firsthand. As a follower of Christ, I was not spared the sudden death of my beloved husband. But it is through this trial I have been given a testimony of God’s enduring love.

Often, it is because of our struggles that we have a story worth telling. And in working through our trials, our struggles, and our hurt, we can experience healing in the loving arms of Christ. The resurrection of Christ gives us a living hope, a hope that invites us to be a part of the greatest story ever told.

Living authentically, even in the midst of adversity, is the hallmark of true discipleship. Every single day I want to give and receive the love of Christ. I want to be a part of bringing good news to the poor and setting the captives free. By extending love to others as Christ did, we often find ourselves blessed in unexpected ways.

As I celebrate my grandson’s first birthday, I am reminded of the preciousness of every moment. How we invest our time matters deeply, shaping the legacy we leave behind.

So, let us spend it wisely, cherishing each passing day. Because, before we know it, another year will have come and gone.

Ann Mann is an Emmy Award winning journalist, now serving as pastor to Barnesville First United Methodist Church. Her email is annmann@comcast.net.

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