Articles From the February 1995 Unification News


Family: The Center of Spirituality and Love

by Kasia Stevens-Albuquerque, NM

If you are lucky, your own family is the place to learn basic spirituality. Because my family lived with my grandparents, I was very lucky. The things they taught me make up much of the fabric of my spirituality, including my ability to love God and to love others. They taught me that spirituality is not meant to be brought out only on special occasions, but rather is a part of daily life. The points I list below are not the only points of spirituality, but they are important ones and the ones I was lucky enough to learn from my grandparents.

1. Pray for others.

Babush (my grandmother) prayed every morning and evening in the same chair in the "front" room. Prayer was not hidden away or out of sight. She was asked to give to many causes and she not only gave money, but prayed sincerely for people. She prayed for the healing of problems all over the world as well as in her own family. She prayed a long time.

2. Eat, but don't waste food.

Grandmothers make you eat and Babush was no exception. The first question when I came home from school was "Are you hungry?" We (my two brothers and I) also received steel-cold looks when we did not finish something on our plates that she had cooked. So we learned not to waste food, especially if it was my grandmother's.

3. The value of money.

Every week Babush would add her and Ja Ja's (my grandfather) pension and social security checks. She carefully subtracted each utility, medical and other bills. The she would squeeze out some money to put aside for gifts for her two children and seven grandchildren. It was her greatest joy to give us something. Money was valuable, but its greatest value was to enable one to give.

4. Don't waste electricity or toilet paper.

Ja Ja always went around after everyone shutting off lights, securely tightening water faucets and checking to see how much toilet paper was used. He was trying to save money and stop the septic tank from backing up for the hundredth time. He was frugal. Take care of things.

5. Tears matter.

When I was in high school, my grandmother and I planned a trip to the "old country" so that Ja Ja could visit the village of his youth and see his only surviving brother. One obstacle stood in the way. Ja Ja would not fly. We should have known that because we had to trick him even to ride in a car. The trip got canceled. I found out one afternoon after school. Wordlessly I walked into the front room and just sat there. One big sad tear oozed out of my right eye. This lone tear made Babush reconfirm her and my ticket to Poland later that week. Later my grandmother told me that she couldn't let her granddaughter cry. I felt so deeply loved and valued.

6. Go to Church.

Ja Ja was very good at going to church. He walked five miles to church every Sunday morning and five miles back in his best suit to attend 8am mass. He had gone and returned by the time we got up. Babush also went, except she let us drive her, and she learned more when she was there than he did.

7. Love no matter what.

Ja Ja stopped talking to his only son (my father) sometime near my parents' engagement. My grandfather didn't speak to my father for about twenty years. Living in the same house made this silence no small feat. My poor Babush was caught in between the two men she loved most in the entire world. She did the only thing she could do. She loved them strongly, no matter what.

She did the same with me. When I decided to take off for Europe and later joined an unpopular religion, Babush supported me more than anyone else in my family. My parents went crazy with disapproval and worry, but Babush trusted me. She loved me, no matter what.

8. Love is simple, pure and childlike.

Babush's relationship with people and especially with her husband was one of simple innocence. She confided in me that she did not kiss Ja Ja until they became engaged after a year of courtship. He had brought her some flowers and while they were out on the swing on the front porch Ja Ja asked The Question. They sealed their commitment with their first kiss.

She also confided that Ja Ja had cold feet and after forty years of marriage she still warmed them up for him under the covers. Her simple kindnesses were a mighty love. She kept a child inside of her heart. That child played and laughed through her.

Thank you, Babush and Ja Ja. This column is for you.

Rev. Kasia Stevens is the campus minister of the Unification Church at the University of New Mexico and the president of the Interreligious Council at U.N.M.


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