A Heart Like Mary
“Peace be with you.”
“And also with your spirit.”
As I stood in the church and repeated the ritual greeting with those around me, I took in the elegance of the sanctuary; the sprays of flowers so precisely placed so that all could enjoy their beauty, the small well spaced windows above the crucifix that showed just the right amount of sky, clouds lazily drifting by giving the notion that maybe we were getting a glimpse of the heavens themselves.
I blinked back tears as I watched a father and daughter embrace the rest of their their family with anguish and tenderness. My thoughts drifted back to the day when I stood in a similar place, saying goodbye to my mother. I remembered the raw almost unbearable ache in my heart that was mixed with relief and joy that she suffered no longer. I couldn’t really reach the joy very well that day because the ache of separation overwhelmed me, but it was there – knowing that she was with Jesus and she knew no more sorrow, no more tears and that she was perfect and whole.
I knew this was also true for my dear friend Grace Ann but I still had that too familiar ache of separation and sadness.
Grace Ann reminded me of my mother and I suppose that accounts for some of my fondness for her, but Grace Ann was a force of her own nature and I loved her dearly.
I only knew her for two years, but I felt as though I had known her so much longer. I became a part of her life every week once a week, discussing our lives, all things food and what I could do to help her find some relief. *I had the great honor of being her massage therapist and truly, I think I got the better end of the deal. She was held prisoner in her own body by a debilitating disease known as Multiple Systems Atrophy and it showed no mercy.
she would not let it take her spirit.
I stumbled into some scripture this morning and I was especially touched by what I read. Maybe you know the moments I speak of- when you’re not really looking for anything specific in the Word and yet the Lord reveals a scripture to you that hits you a new way and speaks to your heart in a way that only the Holy Spirit can speak to.
I was reading Luke 1 ( The Message version) and about how the angle Gabriel came to speak to Mary and later how Zechariah prophesied the coming of Jesus. What struck my heart was Mary’s reply to Gabriel when he told her that her whole life was about to be turned upside down.
“I am the Lord’s maid, ready to serve.
Let it be with me just as you say.” – Luke 38 (The Message)
“ I am the Lord’s maid, ready to serve..”
That was the heart of Grace Ann. She may not have been able to control much of her body, but her spirit – she had a servant’s heart, and it was very big.
We all are all called to ministry on some level in our lives, regardless of our station or occupation, God blesses each of us with our own unique gifts that can serve His Kingdom. One of the most powerful ministries we have is in our own homes and with our families and Grace Ann was a shining example and inspiration of embracing such an important ministry, regardless of our circumstances.
Each day she was challenged by what most of us take for granted, the simple tasks of eating and drinking and being able to scratch our own noses when they itch. She was at the mercy of a body that didn’t work and yet she still found a way to be His servant. She took each day as a gift and trusted her Savior and never gave up hope that He could heal her if it was His will and yet accepted where she was with grace and dignity and courage. She prayed and believed and continued to pour her spirit out to those who God put in her path, including myself. In the midst of her daily struggles, she had always had a kind word to say and still knew how to laugh – she still found JOY and peace in spite of her circumstances.
I am IN AWE…. Her humility and bravery and grace and willingness to serve Jesus in whatever state she was in – well, she was GRACE Ann and she had a heart like Mary.
What would the world look like if we all said,
“ I am the Lord’s maid, ready to serve.”
It broke my heart to say goodbye to her, but I look forward to seeing her again in eternity.
These wise words of Zachariah have touched me in my sadness and in my own grief of losing my dear friend. May they touch you as well.
“Through the heartfelt mercies of our God,
God’s sunrise will break in upon us,
Shining on those in darkness,
Those sitting in the shadow of death,
Then showing us the way,
One foot at a time
Down the path of peace.”
Until we meet again dear friend….
*As a massage therapist, I take client confidentiality very seriously. I was blessed with permission by the family to publish this piece. My prayer is that this little slice of knowing Grace Ann will touch your heart as she has touched so many in her path.