What a great opportunity to be in some form of conversation with my fellow Presbies! I am grateful for your time and communal pondering. Grateful is a good place to start our conversations, and I would like to first thank Lilita.
Lilita was my great grandmother. She went Home in 2000, but I am sure that as I write this se lo esta gozando en el cielo (“she’s dancing a jig in heaven”). This is what my dad always says when a child in our family is baptized or is singing in the children’s choir or when Lilita’s great-granddaughter is writing for the Presbyterian Outlook! We believe she must be reveling in heaven as she watches the seeds she planted grow and bear fruit since it is because of her that we are counted among the “decent and orderly.”
The last time I saw her was at the San Juan Airport. I was 8 years old. We were catching the red-eye flight to San Jose, Costa Rica for a 2-year mission call. She was at the airport waiting for us that morning, even though we told our family and friends not to come to the airport.
But Lilita was not going to miss this! … Lilita didn’t miss much of anything.
She didn’t miss a wedding toast. She didn’t miss sharing a few words at a funeral. She didn’t miss a hospital visit or the opportunity to hold a freshly baptized baby. Lilita didn’t miss any activity that happened in the life of the church – and nothing was going to make her miss blessing her grandson as he went off to answer God’s call. She had worked too hard for this.
See, she was the one who took my dad to church. She was the one who taught him how to sing, “Si, Cristo me ama.” She told him stories about monkeys misbehaving on the ark, about God taking special time to create Puerto Rico when God separated the land from the waters, and how cruise lines got their idea from the story of Jonah and the whale. Every Friday and Saturday night, she would kneel with her grandson and pray for every cousin, aunt, uncle, neighbor, each person on the church prayer list, and for my dad’s parents to someday come to know God.
Lilita was not a charismatic speaker. She wasn’t the president of any clubs or associations. And her singing … well, let’s just say she could sing with the best of the little church ladies who like to aim for those operatic high notes. But, she was committed. She was disciplined. She was steadfast. And, because of her, my father grew up knowing the love of God, the way of Jesus, and the abiding presence of the Spirit.
Commitment, discipline, and steadfastness are not necessarily the most glamorous of attributes, but I am convinced that with their drip-drop consistency, they break through hardened hearts and shape wills and lives. My grandparents never did become church goers, so I can’t imagine what my dad’s life would have been like… what our life would be like, if it had not been for Lilita’s steadfast discipleship and love. And so I thank Lilita, and all of the other people who through their steadfast service and love continue to work God’s wonders in our communities, in our communities of faith, and in our lives.
Lord, I thank you for the many people you have placed on our journey of faith that have and continue to give us what we needed to carry on. Bless them, Lord, and wherever they may be on their journey of faith, may their kindness be returned a hundredfold! Give us the foresight, the patience, and the creativity to provide for others on their journey. In Christ’s name, Amen.
Hear, O Israel: The Lord is our God, the Lord alone. You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your might. Keep these words that I am commanding you today in your heart. Recite them to your children and talk about them when you are at home and when you are away, when you lie down and when you rise.
Lolimarta Ros Reiter, or as most of her friends know her, Loli, ministers alongside the fine folks at The Presbyterian Church of Seffner outside of Tampa, FL. She was born in Puerto Rico but has lived on the mainland since she was 9. Her daughter Isabel (9 years old) wants you to know her mom is funny; Olivia (6 years old) wants you to know she likes to talk about God…a lot; and John, her husband, wants you to know that she is the best wife, ever…Such a smart man! She looks forward to being in cyber-community with you.