But God encourages

2 Corinthians 7:5-6 When we [Paul and his team] arrived in Macedonia, there was no rest for us. We faced conflict from every direction, with battles on the outside and fear on the inside. But God, who encourages those who are discouraged, encouraged us by the arrival of Titus.


Up until the 18th century, amethyst was included in the cardinal, or most valuable, gemstones (along with diamond, sapphire, ruby, and emerald). However, since the discovery of extensive deposits in locations such as Brazil, it has lost most of its value. The highest-grade amethyst is exceptionally rare. (Wikipedia)

From Shutterstock by olpo

I grew up in a remote village in the highlands of Guatemala. American visitors were rare. When I was four, a family traveled the rough mountain road to visit us. The mother of this family—I’ll call her Mrs. B—fascinated me. She was gentle and soft-spoken, with a ready smile and laugh. Her eyes sparkled. She had kind words for everyone and seemed to radiate happiness. She gave me a glimpse of another world, another way of living, a possible different future. I found myself thinking, When I grow up, I want to be like her.

That’s still true. I’m intrigued and challenged when I encounter graciousness, the word I later assigned to my memory of Mrs. B. She encouraged me with new possibilities. With hope. Not because she related to me in any particular way during her brief time in our home, but simply by her manner of being.

When I read the history of the amethyst, I remembered Mrs. B. At four, she sparkled for me like a precious gem. As I grew up, I discovered Mrs. B’s qualities in many people: love, joy, peace, patience, gentleness . . . all the gifts of the Spirit. No less lovely for being more common than rare.

In my novel Horse Thief 1898, I modeled Cathleen, and at a younger stage in life, Aisling, after Mrs. B. Cathleen and Aisling (and doubtless Mrs. B) have faults, weaknesses, struggles. They are capable of hurting those they love. Yet they embody graciousness.

When I grow up, I want to be like them.

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