My travels for professional and for recreational purposes have allowed me to get to know and interact with a lot of different people over the years, across many cities and small towns in a number of states in this great country. I am grateful for all that I have gained from each person: humor, perspective, wisdom, peace, love and more. This morning in my meditation I recalled one particular person whose life example is worth sharing.
I met Hazel several years ago and had the good fortune of being able to spend a few days getting to know more about her, her family and her life. Hazel works as a non-managerial employee in a large organization where she has been employed for several decades. She is pleasant, with a good sense of humor and is always willing to help out her co-workers, or volunteer for the plethora of projects that present themselves in work environments. In the short period of time I spent with Hazel, I learned that she was divorced with grown children, and lived in a home that she owned. She had a fierce pride about that particular fact which I understood as a single mother myself. Several years back Hazel met someone and they eventually ended up living together as a couple.
As happens when we enter into relationships, each person brings “luggage” in the form of habits, beliefs, peculiarities – and extended family! The older we get, the more complex the family “luggage” often becomes. Hazel’s partner brought with him several grown children, and a young grandchild whose home life was not what Hazel (or any of us) would recommend for a child. Her partner also brought with him an inability to contribute a lot of money to the relationship and a host of health problems. From the outside it would be easy to wryly ascertain that this relationship is very lopsided.
If Hazel believes it to be lopsided, she never lets on. Her stories about her partner and in particular his grandchild are humorous and sometimes tinged with pain, but she never presents them as a burden in her life. Hazel is older than I am, and I have grandchildren who are blood-related to me that I adore; but I would be dishonest if I told you that they never wear me out. Sometimes I just need some down time without kids. Hazel jokes about the child having a lot of energy, but it’s never a complaint. I don’t complain about my grandchildren, either but I’m sure grateful when they go home after a long day. Small children have a different energy level and when you return to their world as a grandparent, it’s a definite readjustment!!
Her partner’s grandchild, as I mentioned, is what I would classify as a child “at risk” due to their home situation and parents. As someone without any legal influence over the child, Hazel’s options are limited and she could easily wash her hands of the circumstances and say, “Hey – it’s not my kid – and besides; I have my hands full taking care of [the child’s grandfather]!”
But this is not Hazel’s approach.
Hazel’s home welcomes this child on weekends and in the Summer which means that Hazel is feeding and caring for the child on a regular basis. She purchases clothing, toys and other needs for the child and includes them in family activities, encouraging the child to call her “Grammy”. The last time I spoke with Hazel, she was planning a day at the large local state fair; a day that of course, included her partner’s grandchild. When Hazel shared this with me, in my head I quickly ran the numbers, realizing that this woman was going to spend at least $100 just to get everyone through the gate: after that, even more money would be flowing as the food and entertainment at a large Fair would require. In addition, Hazel mentioned that they were going on a weekday, which meant that she would also take time off from work.
At the time, I recall thinking that Hazel was a generous and kind woman, and feeling very blessed to have met her and spent a short period of time interacting with her. Over the years, I have revisited that thought and each time my heart has been warmed by the kindness that Hazel demonstrated in her day to day.
It’s highly likely that this child will continue to experience pain and challenges throughout their life due to the abject home circumstances, but this child has a light of hope and knows that regardless of what’s happening at home, there is SOMEONE who loves them, and cares enough about them to create little islands of happiness; to give of her time, money and of herself for no other reason than that she cares.
We may never know the outcome of the seeds of Light, Love and Peace that I’m sure Hazel continues to plant in this child’s life. In fact, it may take decades for the child to recognize all the gifts that Hazel has given to them, but I know that somewhere along their journey, they will recognize the gift that was embodied in the person they knew only as grandpa’s girlfriend: “Grammy Hazel”.
What a Divine gift Hazel is to the world! A simple woman with limited education beyond high school, Hazel is not a guru of spiritual studies or practice; yet she is the walking embodiment of Spirit. In New Thought and specifically Religious Science, we speak of God as Life, Love, Light, Power, Peace, Beauty and Joy. Hazel is all of these things, and the best part of this story is that she’s just “being Hazel”. She’s not walking some intentional spiritual path, or striving to prove a religious or spiritual point: she’s just being herself. In my meditation this morning I realized that when I met Hazel I had seen God in the flesh. I also realized that God is all around me, ever-expressing in people just like Hazel, every day in many different and diverse ways.
I’m grateful for Hazel, for the time I spent with her, and for the memory that came as a gift to me this morning.
And so It is.