My Life In the Sanctuary – Roots & Stems

Exodus 25:31,Make a lampstand of pure gold. Hammer out its base and shaft, and make its flowerlike cups, buds and blossoms of one piece with them.  Six branches are to extend from the sides of the lampstand—three on one side and three on the other. Three cups shaped like almond flowers with buds and blossoms are to be on one branch, three on the next branch, and the same for all six branches extending from the lampstand.  And on the lampstand there are to be four cups shaped like almond flowers with buds and blossoms. One bud shall be under the first pair of branches extending from the lampstand, a second bud under the second pair, and a third bud under the third pair—six branches in all. The buds and branches shall all be of one piece with the lampstand, hammered out of pure gold.” 

“Then make its seven lamps and set them up on it so that they light the space in front of it. Its wick trimmers and trays are to be of pure gold. A talent of pure gold is to be used for the lampstand and all these accessories.  See that you make them according to the pattern shown you on the mountain.” 

Grandmothers and Grandfathers are something special to a family. The matriarchs and/or patriarchs of our world. The glue that holds things together, keeping everyone centered, and focused. My grandmother was like a magnet to her grandchildren. It was almost inevitable that if we had a choice between going to an amusement park, or going to visit my grandmother for the summer…granny would always win!

Going to my grandmother’s home was THE highlight of the summer for me. Every year, when the mundane life of school ended, I knew where I was headed. I was headed to granny’s to live it up, WOOHOO! My brother and I would pack our bags in preparation to depart our home, as if we were going on an overseas mission trip. Clothes, some valuable toys, and perhaps a few other items…if they could fit. Sometimes a relative would come and pick us up or my big brother who had long left home, would give us a ride. However, we could always rely on our good friend to get us where we need to go, the RTA, or that the “Rita”, as we affectionately called her.  The Regional Transit Authority or public transportation as most of you may be more familiar with. It was pretty cheep back then, costing about two quarters to catch a ride. That one fair could get you a transfer ticket to catch a 2nd bus, and possibly a 3rd bus. Yes, we were pretty young riding public transportation alone, but things were different then. I won’t even let my kids ride their bikes to the corner of the street without me now. Yep, times surely have changed.

Once we arrived to my grandmothers house, we’d unload our stuff, and commence to finding all of our cousins…who happen to also be at my grandmother’s for the summer as well. Somehow all the parents would ship their children to her and my grandfather. Some planned, but most ending up on the door step like  a stork dropped them off. I always wondered how in the world did she manager to have all of us there. From the youngest of kid, to the oldest of teenager. But then I realized she had a plan to manager all of these children. Her plan was to have us CLEAN! Yes, clean the house from top to bottom. This served a purpose of keeping us out of trouble, earning our keep for the summer, and getting her some things done around the house. Till this day, whenever I see a baseboard or a banister, I feel traumatized all over again. Buckets of bleach water and Lysol cleaner through out the house. Windows, door nobs, and all the in between, we cleaned it. But, we knew when we were done for the day, we could go out and play, and play we did. At the end of the day, we would be so tired, we would drop wherever there was an open bed or floor to lay our heads. Granny would gather blankets and cover us at night, and off we went to sleep, until the next day to rise and do it all over again.

My grandmother’s house was the center of the entire world for her children and grandchildren. All of my aunts, uncles, cousins and even family friends, found themselves living in my grandmothers home, next door to her home, down the street from her home, around the corner from her home. At one point, I can remember what seemed to be all of her children living in the home at one time. I am sure I am mistaken, but I promise at least 2 to 3 families at one time. But for sure everyone did their best to stay within a block or two radios of her home. It was so great for the cousins because we could grow up with one another. I am not quite sure how exciting that was for my grandmother, to have all of her children and grandchildren around 24/7. I sometimes hide in the bathroom, sneaking a pop-sickle just to have some alone time from my kids.

It had it’s challenges I’m sure. No privacy most days, cupboards and fridge emptied by ravenous teenager every day. Never knowing who she would find on her couch when she woke up in the morning, or who she would find creeping in later at night, taking her cain and beating them as they ran to their rooms. Yep, the stories she could tell, lol. Let’s just say…you didn’t want to mess with the cain.

Needless to say, as hectic as I am sure it was for her at times to have us all there, constantly coming and going, I believe it gave her comfort to know that her children, and her grandchildren were near by. It gave her peace to know that we knew if we ever needed help, were in distressed or trouble, needing a place to lay our heads, or get something to eat, or simply just wanted to stop by and visit for a while, we were always close by. She was the center of the family. The nucleus of the forcefield that held us together. She wore that badge and knew that it meant that the connection she had with her children was life giving. It fead our souls, and it gave us confidence that we had a place to call home. We were forever connected to her, and her home was the center of all of our worlds. We learned eventually it wasn’t the building that housed her, but herself that created that glue for us. We had to remain connected, and being detached from her wasn’t an option. It remained that way until the day she died. She traveled from home to home to live with her children. Them taking turns to care for her, the family did their best to keep the root to our family in it’s rightful place, and as her stems, we would stay grafted to her side.

I see my life in Exodus 25:31, when I reflect on the beauty of the 7 branch candle stick. It’s make was so amazingly artful, and strong. It was made of gold, one solid piece, formed and shaped by a master craftsman. It took a raging fire to shape and mold it’s design, as did my grandmother and her family. The Menorah’s center branch was the root to all the other 6 outlaying stems. It provided the oil that would continue to feed the other 6, so that the light in the temple could burn continuously. Each brand only burned as it was connected to that center stem, gathering oil from it’s vessel. Clinging to it, they gave out such amazing beautiful light.

I remember when she passed away, my grandmother, and our family felt that light go out. We fell apart, and we had to figure out what we as stems were suppose to do to continue to shine. It was hard to not have her here. The truth was, life was never going to be the same for us. We had to come to grips with the idea that the center of our family had gone. But with her leaving we had to cling to the fact that the light she gave us, through her love, through her teaching us many life lessons, that we too had now become roots of light to our own families. Light giving branches that one day would become the roots for our own children, grandchildren and so many others.

Jesus stands in the midst of his people, just as my grandmother stood in the midst of her family…declaring that though He is the light of the world…we are to be lights to the world as well. His light shines and the oil from His root is poured into our vessels to feed us with what we need to give light. We will continue to shine bright, as we remain as stems, connect to the greatest source of power and strength we have ever known. Our FATHER in heave is the source and it will never die. It only get’s brighter and brighter as we draw closer to Him.

Matthew 15:16, “Let your light so shine before men, that they may see your good works, and glorify your Father which is in heaven.

John 15:5, “I am the vineye are the branches: He that abideth in me, and in him, the same bringeth forth much fruit: for without me ye can do nothing.”

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