It was one of those last minute decisions, made after a few chores were done and the rest of our unplanned day stretched before us. We would go see Lee. At ninety-seven years of age, her mind the proverbial sharp tack, her body gracefully aged, arthritic and definitely worn, and her spirit wise and loving. Hoping to catch her before lunch, we wanted to surprise her with a car ride and meal out. Little did I know that I was to be given the greater gift.
After no answer to my knock on her door, we went to the dining room to continue our search where we found her already seated for her meal. To gain her attention, I laid my hand on her shoulder and greeted her. She looked up at me, smiling with a radiance which reached my heart. As I knelt down beside her she cupped my face in her hands and kissed me repeatedly. I was wrapped in a joyous greeting. It was a rare and holy salutation Lee extended to me. I soon realized that she had thought that she would never see me again.
How many comings and goings do our days and weeks and months and years engender? How many greetings and welcomes are given and received perfunctorily? How many times do we let the words slip from our mouths or wash over our heads? Lee’s gnarled hands and tender lips left a deep imprint on my soul. I felt loved and connected. Her greeting gave me a foretaste of the Kingdom of God.