This past week we buried my sweet Aunt Ruby. Aunt Ruby was eighty-nine years old. Her health had been failing but she was determined to make it to ninety. She told her doctor as much a few days before her passing. Her body gave out, but her spirit never gave up.
I was asked to share thoughts about my aunt at the funeral. I decided to share some of those thoughts here as well. I want to honor her and remember her, yes. But in gathering my thoughts on Aunt Ruby, I learned something about myself and the woman I want to be as I walk this life.
When I first began preparing my talk for my aunt’s funeral, several words and phrases came to mind. Words like “trustworthy” and “hospitable”; phrases like “gentle spirit” and “quiet strength.”
A Woman of Noble Character
The words that surfaced reminded me of the woman of noble character described in Proverbs 31:
“…she brings her husband good and not harm…”
“…she gets up while it is still dark, she provides food for her family…”
“…she sets about her work vigorously…”
“…her lamp does not go out at night…”
“...she makes clothing for her family and covering for her bed…”
“…she is clothed with strength and dignity…”
“she does not eat the bread of idleness…”
“…charm is deceptive, beauty is fleeting, but a woman who fears the Lord is to be praised..”
I share those phases because each one describes my aunt. One would be worth mentioning. Any woman would be honored to be described by one of these phrases, but the truth is that I had to select only a few from the long list in the chapter. Aunt Ruby was a woman of noble character.
But is There More?
As I was working on what I would say at the service for my aunt, I shared my thoughts with one of my daughters. Aunt Ruby’s life brought to her mind, words from the New Testament in Galatians 5 verse 22 where Paul describes the fruit of the Spirit as love, joy, piece, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control.
Yep, that’s my Aunt Ruby.
This year, I’ve been working to memorize the twelfth chapter of Romans. In that chapter we are instructed to “be joyful in hope, patient in affliction, faithful in prayer, …and to practice hospitality.”
Yep, that’s my Aunt Ruby.
Patience Learned, Patience Cultivated, Patience Practiced
But as I went to through the days leading to that point in time when we would all gather to say our final farewell and share our memories of a life well lived, I realized one quality, one trait emerged over and over in the scripture I chose and in my aunt’s life: Patience.
My aunt loved to fish. Fishing takes patience. Aunt Ruby learned patience as she baited the hook, dropped her line in the water and waited.
She raised a garden to feed her family. Gardening takes patience. Aunt Ruby cultivated patience and demonstrated faith as she planted seeds, watered, waited, weeded and watered and waited some more, watched the plants bloom and waited still longer. Eventually, the vegetables grew and ripened. She’d pick the fruits of her labor to feed her family with fresh bounty as well as preserve the rest for use later.
Aunt Ruby worked as a seamstress for a high-end dress shop. She altered clothes for customers. Sewing a garment at any level requires patience, but meeting the needs and demands for people who are paying for the service requires a big dose of patience and much needed grace. Fabric can be unforgiving, sewing machines can break, and a job that should take minutes winds up taking hours. I’m sure there were times when my aunt was frustrated, but she put the patience she learned to work for her. She did what she had to do. She was loved and respected by her employer, coworkers and clients.
Patience isn’t necessarily a gift. It is a learned behavior; A behavior or trait to be cultivated and practiced.
Maybe in this instant world we live in. This place where we connect with people instantly all over the world through technology and expect our food to be instantly ready for us when we are hungry. Maybe in this time when we expect…no when we demand… to have the answers at our fingertips and become frustrated when it doesn’t happen. Maybe we can learn from Aunt Ruby.
Maybe it’s time we do a little more fishing or plant a garden.
You see patience is more than something we wish we had or something we wish others around us practiced. Patience is the thread that holds us together.It is the first quality used to describe love in the thirteenth chapter of the letter Paul wrote to the Corinthians.
“Love is patient, love is kind.” I Corinthians 13:4
Thank you, Aunt Ruby for helping me to see this. Thank you for a life well lived.