My grandmother taught me about Jesus. Always Jesus. When she visited us, I would go upstairs to her room before bedtime. There was a picture of Jesus in the garden with the children. She would talk about Him just like he was a real person. She would tell bible stories from memory and they seemed like actual accounts. Like she had been there. She would hold my hands and we would say the Lord’s Prayer together. Then, she’d kiss me goodnight smelling of powder and love.
I also learned of Jesus before going to a physical church. I didn’t attend a service until kindergarten, but I already knew most of the highlights from books my mother bought me at the Baptist book store. When I was young, no one really seemed to care much about denominations among Christians. We went to the Baptist book store even though we weren’t Baptist. That’s just where you went for things like bibles and Sunday school supplies. When spending the night at a friend’s, I went to whatever church they went to. Methodist, Presbyterian, Lutheran, Catholic, Episcopalian, I never really knew there was a difference. Kids just went to Sunday school with their friends and it was fine. Church was church. If a family didn’t attend church, that was fine too. I don’t remember anyone caring.
My grandmother had friends from all walks of life and went to church wherever she was. Or just read the bible at home and prayed sitting at the kitchen table. I was given the understanding that Jesus was everywhere and with everyone. He certainly was always with her. At our house, my grandmother went to whatever church she felt like walking to. Over the years, all the different parishes knew when she was coming and welcomed her with open arms. She laughingly called herself a church tramp.
She said she liked to visit Jesus in any of his homes, could be a building or a forest. She believed very much in God’s gift of nature and took me on long, detailed walks of my neighborhood. To my amazement, she knew where every wild blackberry bush was. We always visited “the queen” in the center of all the Queen Anne’s Lace flowers near my dentist’s office. I learned the bounty of honeysuckle, milkweed pods and the root beer flavor of a sassafras stem. Considering that my grandmother only visited us for two weeks a year, it was magical to me how much she knew about where I lived.
My grandmother’s Jesus was eternal and anywhere, in her, in me, in the world. We visited with Him all the time. Grandma talked out loud to Him, just like any other conversation. She heard back from Him, too. She read inspiring words daily and put those words into action. She worked among the poor back home in California. She loved riding the bus, so she could talk to other humans. Her faith was easy. Her Jesus was easy, too. He just was…and always shall be.