The sweet morning air is cool on her cheeks. She looks up briefly, breathes in deeply, and then sighs. “I’m pretty sure they said to meet them here at 8:00,” she whispers to herself. Pulling her tattered cardigan around her shoulders again, she returns to the pile of yarn in her lap. Her knitting needles click in a sing-song rhythm as loops of red wool take shape. Her thoughts take her to another place, another time. She smiles. She hears footsteps approaching, looks up from her work and her smile broadens. She sees a young man and woman in the distance, hands locked together as they swing their arms in time with their steps.
As the man and woman approach, they see her sitting alone again on the park bench this morning. They stop for a moment and greet her with a cheerful “Good morning Ms. Emma.” “I see you’ve almost completed the sweater,” he says.
Ya-es,” she replies in her soft southern drawl, “Ain’t it purdy? My Henry’s gonna lack it don’t cha think? I finished the blue ‘un yesterday and the white ‘un last week. Real patriotic don’t cha think? He said I was to meet him and his army buddies by this old oak tree at 8:00. I don’t understand why they ain’t here yet. You didn’t pass them on your walk did cha?”
“No,” the young lady replies as she always does, “didn’t see them today.”
The young man gives Ms. Emma’s shoulders a gentle squeeze. “It was good seeing you this morning Ms. Emma. Wish we could sit and chat but we have to get along now. You have a good day.”
She gently pats his hand and says, “You remember what I told you now, “Very rarely will anyone die for a righteous person, though for a good person someone might possibly dare to die.”
“Romans 5:7. Yes ma’am,” he replies, “as well as Romans 5:10 “For if, while we were God’s enemies, we were reconciled to him through the death of his Son, how much more, having been reconciled, shall we be saved through his life!”
“You’re a good boy. Don’t you fer-get them words,” she says.
Taking the young lady’s hand again and walking away, he calls over his shoulder, “I won’t!”
They walk across the street and stop for a moment at the World War II memorial cemetery. There stood three ornate marble tombstones. A small plaque was mounted in front of the largest. It read, “Major Henry Thomas Butler. Loving husband, father and soldier. With disregard of harm’s way, gave his life to save the men under his leadership. Forever in the memories of those who love him. “Greater love hath no man, than to lay down his life for his friends. John 15:13”
A tear begins to slide down the young man’s cheek as he thinks about his own grandmother. “I wonder how many years Ms. Butler has been coming to that park bench,” he says. The young lady squeezes his hand.” I don’t know,” she replies, “but I’m glad she has you to listen to her stories. It helps her keep her memories and love for her Henry alive. You allow her to weave stories as lovingly as those loops of red wool.”
They stand by the graves a few more minutes. He squeezes her hand in return and says, “I think I’ll visit grandma this weekend.” He winks and adds, “She knits too. Want to come with me?”
Prayer: Heavenly Father, everyone needs someone to listen to their stories. Thank you for listening when we think no one else is. Help us allow others see you in us by offering a listening ear or just pat on their shoulder. In Christ name I pray. Amen