Recently I had occasion to attend a memorial service for the mother of a friend who I hold dear for more reasons than one. We were young together in those formative years when you decide how you will look at the world, what your values will be and how you will negotiate your way through life. We have been friends for over fifty years. But this service was special for more reasons than one. Margie’s Mom was one of our many Moms as we tackled the world with no fear in our brash, enthusiastic way. There were twelve of us and we coined our group with great imagination with the incarnation of the: “Tra-Vels”, because we liked to travel! And we did, not internationally, you see, but regularly to plays, cultural events, down-town Copyright ©2009, Kathryn M. Cunningham, all rights reserved.
We are currently scattered around the country, but we came together on that Saturday to honor one of our Moms. It was, in many ways, like being transported back to a zone of comfort that I have not experienced in a long time. I was young again with people who knew what I was thinking and loved me anyway. I was with people who understood my sense of humor and laughed at my corny jokes. I was with those who loved me much and long (50 years) and valued me just because of who I am. But one incident, in particular, set me to thinking. One of “The girls” greeted me with delight and affection and asked what I was doing these days. I prefaced my reply with: “I’ll tell you, but I know that this might make you laugh or think I’m lying”. I continued and told her that I had recently completed a degree in theology and am currently a writer of religion and theology on “The Net”. Her reaction took me by surprise. She became profoundly silent for a moment, looked at me long, and then said: “You, Kath, you always were the one who could do anything; nothing ever stopped you, congratulations!” I was so taken by her reply that for just an instant, my eyes welled up. To think that I have been held in that esteem for such a long time struck me, literally, speechless! This girl’s first impressions of me occurred when I was just 16 or so. I was so blessed by her comment that I thought about it for days. I re-lived the moment over and over in my mind. It was so filled with love.
Then I thought about the bigger picture and I crystallized some of the things that affected me so profoundly from her short comment. Very simply, it was a recall of the “victory in my bones”. As we travel through life we get a little “frayed around the edges”. We become tired of our routines, our job, our house, the people around us, and the things that we have not accomplished. We tend to dwell on all the “stuff” that we haven’t been successful at and our memories tend to be a source of depression and maybe even illness. But we all have victories in us, things that went well, things that we achieved, things we learned, choices we are proud of, good things that we have done. We all carry with us the “grace that God has given our soul” (Venerable Conchita).
My long time friend’s comment to me recalled that people view me as someone who is always forward moving. Funny, I forgot that about myself! It was such a loving remark that it literally energized my spirit. All of us have “victories” that live in us. As members of a faith community we need to be very aware of what those are. We have a responsibility to our community members to tell others that we admire their victories when the Spirit prompts us to do so. We have a personal responsibility to recall our own victories, especially the spiritual ones. The “victory in our bones” is a source of encouragement, healing and spiritual strengthening that we cannot receive any other way. You see, no one else can feel the way we did, in our spirit, when we gained a particular victory. Recall of our past victories is like “vitamin water” for our spirit, energizing and healing at the same time.
The “victory in our bones” is much more than a mental exercise. As I spent time with “The Girls” and their long time boyfriends (now husbands). I actually had the tangible experience of what it feels to be loved unconditionally and when “Woody” made that comment to me I had the physical sense of what it is like to be respected unconditionally. The bible even teaches us this very important lesson for staying in shape spiritually. When we look at the passages that describe David’s encounter with Goliath (Daniel 17: 34-36) we see that he recalls the animals that he has previously killed including a bear and a lion, in other words, his past victories. This was more than a mental exercise for him. He was recalling what it was like to be accurate and courageous as he had done before. This lead him to success. In this year of
We can have no stronger witness to the fact that we have a great responsibility to help recall and actualize others’ victories, as well as our own. Paul, you will recall, successfully evangelized most of the known world. The Church exists today largely due to his astounding efforts. Do you hesitate when you are prompted by the Spirit to encourage someone with something they have done or said? Do you nullify your own victories by saying or thinking things like: “That wasn’t that great.” Or “I really didn’t do anything”? Do you minimize others when they try to remind you of a past victory? The “victory in our bones” is a powerful weapon in our bag of spiritual tools. It can be healing, uplifting and sustaining. Do not hesitate to use it and encourage it in others.
Copyright ©2009, Kathryn M. Cunningham, all rights reserved.
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