In the carpenter’s hands

I wrote previously that Ghena’s grandma grieved the news of her baby having to undergo another surgery. She would often say that Ghena was growing and learning to play and smile, why must she have this surgery now? The doctors understood that her heart was still failing and the surgery was the only way to try to help her, but her body could not cope and a little over a week after this surgery, on Saturday, she died.

As I thought about Ghena’s life, most of it spent with her grandmother, the best and most fitting analogy is to the tender care of a gardener. Of course at first, that image doesn’t do justice to the reality of the self-intense, and self-abnegation involved in caring for a sick child. Nevertheless, the steadfast devotion to her granddaughter’s growth, the delight in her beauty, and joy at each day’s progress, like when she first started smiling, reminds me of a caretaker of a garden who is devoted to the growth of the flowers in her care.

Ghena’s grandmother is staying with us in our community home in Jaffa until the Gaza crossing reopens this week. If anything is a testament to the genuine love and care Ghena’s grandmother gives, even as she grieves, it is that she is already being dubbed ‘khaltie’ or ‘auntie’ in English, to the four Kurdish children in our home.

This evening, she and I took a walk through our neighborhood garden. She named many herbs and plants on sight, others she had to smell before knowing what they were, it was fitting to take this walk. Ghena herself reminds me of a flower, she was delicate and beautiful; seeing this garden certainly called Ghena to mind.

So I want to end with a song for Ghena. It is entitled Wood and Nails, sung by Josh Garrels and Audrey Assad as part of a worship initiative called The Porter’s Gate.

The dead will rise and give You praise
Wood and nails will not hold them down
These wooden tombs, we’ll break them soon
And fashion them into flower beds
The curse is done, the battle won
Swords bent down into plowshares
Your scar-borne hands, we’ll join with them
Serving at the table You’ve prepared
O humble carpenter