An unexpected discovery from the past has a message for today.
I remember my Granny. That’s what we respectfully called her. She was a small, determined woman with gray hair pulled back in a bun. She always seemed to wear the same dress—gray and down below her knees. She had been alone for over 20 years. The most I knew of my grandpa was a shaky signature on my dad’s sixth grade report card. Dad said it was the last signature he could remember before Grandpa died of cancer. He and Granny had five boys and two girls. After he was gone, the older boys shouldered the farm work with the help of a hired hand.
Why remember this now? I was going through some family memorabilia from a dusty box. There I found an old and tattered Bible. A tatting cross dropped out that must have been Granny’s. But no one is left to tell me the story of the Bible or the cross.
All I can remember is Granny in her favorite rocker, tatting borders for towels and other things. Even when we were around, she would sometimes sit there rocking gently and working with her fingers on some project—perhaps even this cross.
I understand why she would have made a cross for her Bible. She was deeply religious, with a German prayer book and Bible at her bedside.
The depth of her faith grew through life’s challenges. The cross provided comfort and strength as she had to turn her dear companion over to the Lord and face life without him. She sent her sons off to war. One stayed behind to do the farming. I can imagine her clutching a tatting cross as she prayed for their safety and the Lord’s blessing on the work of the farm. One was wounded, but he returned. So did the others, including my dad.
Then life returned to the normal cycle of seedtime and harvest. But as time passed, her children moved away and raised families of their own. One remained on the farm and never married. In those natural events, she must have found comfort in the cross where her Savior died for her, her children, their spouses, and her grandchildren.
Yet one more tragedy interrupted the normal routines. One of her sons, who farmed nearby, died unexpectedly from cancer. That called for strength from the Lord’s promises and his reminder that God was taking care of her and her family. I wonder if she remembered—in German, of course—“He who did not spare his own Son, but gave him up for us all—how will he not also, along with him, graciously give us all things?” (Romans 8:32).
She was not one simply to lie down and endure the trials of life. From the beginning, part of the farm’s business was selling eggs to markets in town. In her last days, I can still see her carrying five-gallon buckets filled with water and feed to the chicken coop.
At the end of the day, I imagine her sitting in her rocker with a tatting shuttle working away until it was time to read her Bible, say her prayers, and go to sleep with the comfort of Christ crucified for her.
Her faith wrapped itself around that cross. I put her tatting cross in my Bible. Faith still wraps itself around the cross and finds enough courage, enough hope, enough comfort to embrace the rocky road of the future.
John Braun is pictured above with Granny.
Author: John A. Braun
Volume 108, Number 8
Issue: August 2021