Excerpt from Christmas Charity by Susan G. Mathis:
Mabel opened the door and noticed the darkening sky. “Come in, Susan. Looks like a Nor’easters a building. Might have snow by nightfall.”
Susan entered the elderly woman’s abode. Neat and tidy with lots of memorabilia, just as Susan had imagined. Mabel led her into the kitchen. “I was just making tea. Care for some?”
“Yes, please. How are you, Mabel?”
“I’m just fine. Been praying for you and that girl of yours a fair bit. How’s it going?” Mabel stopped pouring the tea and stared into Susan’s eyes. “Tell me truthful-like, ya hear?” She tilted her head to accentuate her command.
Susan dropped her eyes to the oilcloth-covered table. “Not good. She won’t let me in. Patrick says to give her time, but…”
Mabel sat down next to her and rubbed her braid like her mama always did. Susan turned to make sure she wasn’t dreaming that Mabel was her mama just then.
“But what? Her father let’s her get away with too much? She has free rein to be prickly?” Mabel grunted. “My brother did the same thing when his wife died, and now my niece is unbearable. I know the signs.”
Susan nodded. “So what do I do? I love Patrick. He’s a kind man but he’s too kind sometimes.”
“Pray, dear girl, and pour on the charity.” Mabel sipped her tea before continuing. “Thomas Aquinas said that only God gives us power to show charitable love to another. He says that it’s the most perfect way to love. It’s love that’s given by choice, by your will, not expecting anything in return. True charity not only touches the heart of another but once you pour it out, joy and peace will also fill you up.”
“But…if I can’t even talk to her or touch her or interact with her in any way, how can I show her charity? I don’t understand.”
Mabel gazed at the wall for several moments before answering. “God has to show you the specifics, dearie. The love chapter in Corinthians gives us some ideas. Part of it is having faith and hope that God will give you the answer. It has nothing to do with her accepting you or even liking you. You can talk to her all you want, but if you don’t show her charity, it’ll sound like a noisy, irritating gong. You have to choose to pour on the charity expecting nothing in return.”
Susan felt her brow furrow. She bit her lip until it hurt, trying to understand Mabel’s words. Mabel patiently sipped her tea and let the sounds of silence fill the room. Susan heard the wind howl and the clock tick, until the quiet comforted her. But she still had questions.
“So, it has nothing to do with her? I have to choose it, no matter what she says or does?”
Mabel smiled, patting Susan’s hand. “Exactly. But you can’t do it in your own strength. You have to let God fill you with charity and then you pour it out. Like this pitcher.” Mabel took the little, white creamer and demonstrated as she poured a little cream into her tea. “Just like that. You don’t make the cream. You just pour it out. You’re a vessel, girl.”
Susan G. Mathis is vice-president of Christian Authors Network. She’s a multi-published author of stories set in her childhood stomping ground, the beautiful Thousand Islands on the St. Lawrence River in upstate NY. Her newest novella, Christmas Charity, her first novel, The Fabric of Hope: An Irish Family Legacy, her Thousand Islands Gilded Age series, and her novellas will take you to a time and place few have gone. Susan is also author of two premarital books with her husband, Dale; two children’s picture books, seven stories in compilation books, and hundreds of articles. Visit her at www.SusanGMathis.com.
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