Grandma Miller was a witch. At least thatís what all the kids in our neighborhood thought. Iím not sure why we thought that, though, because none of us had ever seen her. All we saw was her squatty, rundown house that stood at the end of our block--surrounded by a handful of scrub cedars and patches of wispy grass.
But we were all pretty sure she was a witch, and we never--ever--went into her yard. I donít know what we thought sheíd do to us--turn us into toads, probably, but we didnít want to risk it.
Until one afternoon, Marty Marquez and I sneaked into her back yard, climbed her apricot tree and made ourselves sick eating her apricots. But every minute we were up that tree, we kept an eye on the back of the house and one leg off the limb--ready to bolt out of there if she came outside. I mean, the apricots were great, but who wants to go into high school as a toad?
But we never saw her. And we never saw anyone go into her house, either. We always assumed she lived alone.
Then one afternoon, I was riding my bike around the block when I passed by her house. And there she was--standing on the porch--with one hand on her door knob--watching me.
I have to admit it: she didnít look like a witch. I donít know what I expected, but she was small and stout with gray-brown hair. She was wearing what looked like a washed out house coat and slippers.
Like I say, she didnít look like a witch. Instead, she looked like a poor, small, lonely lady--certainly not someone to be afraid of. She didnít look like she would ever hurt a soul. From that moment on I just felt sad for her.
Most of the time, people are not what they seem. Usually people are more than they seem--much more--deeper and more complicated--living lives of intermittent joys and private sorrows.
Iím struck by that every time I visit a nursing home--having to weave my way through a sea of wheelchairs. Or see a young person with multiple body piercings. Or a Moslem woman wearing a hajib. Or someone shopping at Wal-Mart in their dirty pajamas.
Everyoneís life is infinitely complicated. And everyone of them is loved by God. Every one.
May God gladden our soul this week,