A Gift Unparalleled

I’ve just returned from several days in Little Rock, Arkansas, spending time with my mother, two aunts, and several cousins. It’s a large and often contentious family, full of people with problems — and that includes the cousin, niece, and daughter writing this now. I’ve known these folks for my entire life and I love them dearly, and I regret that I hadn’t seen them since my dear grandmother’s death in 1997. I won’t let that much time pass again.

But I have one cousin who, having not been raised by her mother for most of her life, was not as much included in long-ago family gatherings, and while we’ve met a few times, neither of us knew the other. But I had heard that she’d “gotten real religious,” and, presuming that she had likely abandoned, or had never endured, the rest of the family’s Catholic upbringing, I thought I’d give her a call, just to see if we could maybe have a cup of coffee together during my visit.

From that call, just over a month ago, has bloomed a precious relationship — the profound gift of discovering that in a faraway cousin, I’ve found both a new friend and a sister in Christ Jesus, as well as a relative I would love even if she weren’t related. Jean, if you read this, thanks — and let’s take a moment to thank our Lord, who figured that 50 and 63 years wasn’t too long a passing for us to finally really know each other.

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