Summer is here! The prompt for this new season is “Embodying Love.” We have an amazing line-up for the next few months, but there is room, so if you would like to contribute a piece on Embodying Love, click here and we’ll be in touch. And to kick us off is a wonderful woman and writer, Rebecca Ruybalid Stone, who has been one of ABM’s biggest supporters since the beginning! Thank you for sharing your beautiful voice with us Becca.
Rebecca Stone likes the color red, independent movies, and turtle cheesecake. When not talking about theology with her husband or art journaling with her two sweet little girls, Rebecca can be found reading a good book, writing curriculum for churches, or talking with friends. Rebecca would love to run her own publishing company one day. Until then, she blogs about life and faith at With Pen in Hand.
I move around the garage with ease, fulfilling drink orders and collecting money. The smell of fresh trout fills the air. Talking and laughing all around me. Someone tells a joke in Spanish but can’t exactly figure out how to translate it for the rest of us.
It doesn’t matter. We are family.
As a child, I spend a lot of time in a valley on the southern border of Colorado, the place where my grandfather was raised. There are nine siblings in his family. I don’t have to go far to find a cousin or someone else who knows my family.
“Oh, yes. You’re Ruben’s granddaughter,” they say with a smile. At the drugstore. At the grocery. At the local church where grandma plays the piano for services and sometimes the accordion for Bible studies.
In the valley, I experience belonging and acceptance without having to be anything other than me. I bear the last name of my grandfather and that is enough to be delighted in and cherished by many.
On one particular occasion, the cousins and uncles and aunts gather at Aunt Susie’s house for a fish fry. We open up the garage door to create a makeshift patio area. Tables and chairs spill out toward the road, a major highway just a few feet away.
Uncle Jim turns on the grills and the electric skillets, and we pull out paper plates. Streamers are strung because it’s Aunt Lee’s birthday. Mine is tomorrow. Do we have enough napkins? It doesn’t matter. Aunt Lee lives next door. I’ll just skip past the hollyhocks to ask her to bring some. To her own party.
One by one the trucks and cars pull up with more rainbow trout caught that day and drinks and birthday cards. Some are for me. I’m enjoying every minute.
“My, how you’ve grown,” more than one cousin says. “How old are you going to be now?”
Let’s be honest. I am doted on that day.
Cars honk as they drive past the white stucco house. At one point I run across the highway to invite a friend named Randy and his family to come eat. They own the fish and tackle shop there in Mogote.
Next step: put on an apron. It’s time to take drink orders and serve Uncle Louie in his cowboy hat and my own dad, who is busy talking to cousin Butch. Aunt Susie teaches me to be a really good waitress that day. I earn $32 in tips. I am rich!
Truly, I am rich. For, as I move around the crowd of family members, I feel safe and received. Known. It doesn’t matter that I am barely seven years old or that the apron is nearly down to my feet. I am loved in that place. I matter.
I live on the plains now. Far from the Sangre De Cristo mountains and the Mogote Peaks, that portion of land where love spilled out of a garage and surrounded me in the valley.
And so many of my relatives are gone, buried in the cemetery down the road from Aunt Susie’s and Aunt Lee’s. Slowly, I am learning something new—to receive love and belonging from Someone beyond my family. The One who loved me on that day in August so long ago and loves me still.
His acceptance is never ending, because I bear His name. And He delights in me. Not just in the summertime. Not just the day before my birthday. I am surrounded by love each day.