My sister Mary and I were born 20 months apart. She’s older… and much wiser. Mary’s been my leader and defender since I was born, and I don’t deserve her.
For example, she’s given her last two Fridays to me as a painting partner at the cottage, priming and then semi-glossing the woodwork around all my new windows. In the process she also accomplished the thankless job of painting our “Harry Potter Closet,” the hard-to-reach cubbyhole under the stairs. But painting the underside of steps while lying on her stomach and twisting her neck upward was no problem for Mary. “I’d love to do it,” she said.
And that’s her, always saying, “I’d love to do it.”
Years ago one of my friends gave me a coffee mug that says, “No, I can’t bring 4 dozen cookies. Next question?” I love my mug and quickly related to its sentiment. Mary, however, probably wouldn’t be able to drink from it. She’d rather bake the cookies.
Mom once told me, “Next to your father, Mary is the most Christ-like person I know.” She was right. Mary’s always thinking one step ahead of the rest of us. For instance, she keeps my calendar commitments in her head along with her own, hoping she can help. She’ll say, “Do you have a ride to the airport on the 5th? If not, I’ll take you.” I’m thinking, “Where am I going on the 5th?” and she’s already arranging transportation. But that’s Mary, the biblical poster child for putting the interests of another ahead of her own.
As little girls we were polar opposites. She was quiet; I was boisterous. She was careful; I was sloppy. She obeyed the rules; I tested them. Yet somehow our relationship grew into a strong friendship that’s only gotten stronger with the decades. I’m continually learning from her sterling example and will never catch up.
When Nate had his cancer, she and I often left the house briefly to have prayer times in her car. When I held back tears at the cottage to spare children and grandchildren, beach walks with Mary were my safe times to open the flood gates. When Nate died, Mary was there, as she had been for days leading up to that. And in the 15 months since I’ve become a widow, she’s driven from Chicago to Michigan every Thursday to spend several days cheering and fortifying her grieving sister.
Best of all, though, is our relationship as sisters-in-the-Lord. Mary knows her Bible (because she reads it through each year), and I often ask, “Where is that one verse about…?” She knows. As a Bible study leader she studies Scripture intently and has, in the process, become more and more like its Author. As Mom said, Christ-like.
Today after cleaning her paint brush and pulling on her boots she said, “What are you planning to blog about tonight?”
I said, “You.”
“Oh no. You shouldn’t.”
But of course, I knew she’d say that.
“She had a sister called Mary, who sat at the Lord’s feet listening to what he said.” (Luke 10:39)