From The Manse: Spring 2008
‘Love is in the air, everywhere you look around – or so the popular song goes. But is it? Today, as I write, many people will be celebrating St. Valentine’s Day. A day when, regardless of its origins, cards, flowers and chocolates become big business as we declare undying love to that ‘special someone’ in our lives. (Don’t worry; I did get a card and flowers from Colin!!)
But on the face of it, there doesn’t seem to be much love around. The Newspapers, TV and Radio, all report the violence on our streets; contentious issues seem to cause argument and ill-feeling; the Biblical teaching of ‘Love thy neighbour’ seems to get more and more difficult
However, do not despair – I came across this very heart warming story, which proves that love is not dead, but perhaps is something we need to work at.
‘My grandparents were married for over half a century, and played their own special game from the time they first met. The goal of their game was to write the word “shmily” in a surprise place for the other to find. They took turns leaving “shmily” around the house, and as soon as one of them discovered it, it was their turn to hide it once more.
There was no end to the place “shmily” would pop up. Little notes with “shmily” scribbled hurriedly were found on dashboards and car seats, under pillows. “Shmily” was written in the dust upon the mantel and traced in the ashes of the fireplace. This mysterious word was as much a part of my grandparents’ house as the furniture.
But there was a dark cloud in their life: my grandmother had breast cancer. The disease had first appeared ten years earlier. As always, Grandpa was with her every step of the way. He comforted her in their yellow room, painted that way so that she could always be surrounded
by sunshine, even when she was too sick to go outside.
Now the cancer was again attacking her body. With the help of a cane, and my grandfathers’ steady hand, they went to church every morning. But my grandmother grew steadily weaker until, finally, she could not leave the house any more. For a while, Grandpa would go to church
alone, praying to God to watch over his wife. Then one day, what we all dreaded finally happened. Grandma was gone.
“Shmily” was scrawled in yellow on the pink ribbons of her funeral bouquet. As the crowd thinned and the last mourners turned to leave, my aunts, uncles, cousins and other family members came forward and gathered around Grandma one last time. Grandpa stepped up to my grandmother’s casket and, taking a shaky breath, he began to sing to her. Through his tears and grief, the song came, a deep and throaty lullaby.
Shaking with my own sorrow, I will never forget that moment. For I knew that, although I couldn’t begin to fathom the depth of their love, I had been privileged to witness its unmatched beauty.
S – h – m – i – l – y : See How Much I Love You.’
As we move from Valentines, through the season of Lent, to the celebration of Easter – we are reminded once more that, whether or not we have been fortunate enough to experience the type of love in the story, there is a greater love.
The love that God showed to humanity, the love which saw His only Son die on a cross for our sin, the love which continues to forgive unconditionally, is ours – no strings attached!
When we look around our world, we may sometimes have to search around for the “shmily” notes; occasionally they are written boldly and un-missable; but never is the love of God hidden.
Maybe, when we gather round the empty cross on Easter Day, there should be written above it, in big bold letters…
See How Much I Love You
(Story adapted from ‘A Bucket of Surprises’ by J John & M Stibbe)
Yours in Christ