Now I know in part; then I shall know fully, even as I have been fully known.
1 Corinthians 13:12
That’s my hand in the picture. I know from the big scar on my ring finger. It’s also my daughter Rima’s hand from when she was very little. I can tell from the mole on her finger we call the angel’s touch. She also has one on the bottom of her right foot. I know, am her father.
Which brings me to an unusual question. What is the best Christmas present you ever received? It’s something that people recall with a grin, thinking back over the course of a lifetime. My best present ever was a pair of pyjamas made by my mother, but not for the reasons you might expect.
That year, my mom made a pair of pyjamas for each of her seven boys. She was a self-taught seamstress of considerable abilities, and one of those was that she could calculate your size by looking at you, no tape measure necessary. The remarkable thing was that although everyone had left home by that point, all the pyjamas fit. It never occurred to me at the time that there was something special about that. Now I can put my finger on it. It’s the delicious knowledge that there was someone in the world who knew me that well, and I know now that it is a rare thing.
As you go through life with many travellers, you realize not all will be life-long. You will end up with some good friends, the kind you can tell your deepest, darkest secrets to. You will also likely be able to number those on one hand. From those, there may be one that truly knows you, flaws all in. Like my grandmother used to say, all you really need in life, is for one person to love you wholly and completely.
For most people that is their marriage partner, if they are lucky enough. But even married people know that a long term relationship can be a game of hide and seek as each person goes through separate phases and grows through different things. You understand that fully when you witness long-standing couples who suddenly dissolve after thirty years of marriage, as a last-ditch attempt to find another one-and-only somewhere out there in the world. Who knew? The Japanese may have laid a finger on it. They say that everyone has three hearts. There is the heart you express to the world, the heart you extend to your friends, and the secret heart that no one knows.
Timing is also a funny thing. In real life, you start to know and understand some things only much later on. By the time you begin to understand your parents as people, fully loved and faults all in, you might not be able to tell them. My last conversation with my mother was in a hospital. She was unable to speak. I held her hand and told her that there is a conversation waiting to be had in Heaven, and I hope to make good on that promise some day. That is the wonder of Christian faith, the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen that remain for now, in the future.
Fleming Rutledge has noted that there is something we do not always factor in that the Bible proclaims. It’s not just about forgiveness. It’s God’s promise of full restoration for all creation. From all the hits and misses in life, we will be able to bury our regrets when the one who is perfect, makes all things new. Then we will be able to love fully and completely, and to receive in a way that is not always possible in this imperfect world.
For we know only in part... but when that which is perfect comes, that which is imperfect shall pass away. That conversation with my Mom will come, I am sure of it. Along with the delicious knowledge of being fully known, and fully loved. As I think of it, that may be the greatest gift of all. It will be a pair of pyjamas that fits just right, now and to the end of time.