Posted on Sep 3, 2019

1 September 2019

My great-aunt Martha lived two doors down from us while I was growing up.

She was a wonderful woman.

She grew up knowing a very hard life, nearly starved to death during the great depression,

lost a son in the second world war.

She had great faith, survived it all and was one of the happiest people I know.

As a child I would go to visit her and her husband Frank often.

I’d go there especially when I thought I wasn’t being appreciated enough by my own parents.

Aunt Martha and Uncle Frank were always glad to see me, stopped everything they were doing,

and always had a couple of home-baked cookies for me.

One day when, according to my parents, I’d been particularly bad,

I snuck out of the house and over to Aunt Martha’s.

I knew she would help me lick my wounds and appreciate me for the wonderful person I was.       And she did.

I ate with great gusto her soft molasses cookies..

When I got home my mother took one look at me and said, “George–in that wonderful tone mothers have when they are going to tell you something you’d better not forget–George, Aunt Martha gives you cookies because she’s nice, not because you are.”

The Lord calls on us to act toward others–not because they are nice, not because they are good to us, not because of anything anyone can do for us–but out of the goodness of our being.

The Lord understands that manipulating others–showing those of account preference, doing for others so that we get something in return,

only gets us so far, and usually gets us nothing of what we really want.

The Lord also believes that we are capable of much more,

and a kind of happiness and peace that only comes out of goodness.

Aunt Martha could have been a manipulative, bitter old woman.

With her life, everyone would have understood, but she wasn’t.

On the day I buried her I told my family and friends about her cookies,

and the way she and uncle Frank always took account of me,

a child who could do nothing for them.

After the funeral, almost everyone came up to me and told me similar stories.

I believe she sits now at the eternal banquet, and somebody else gets to bake the cookies.

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