I Corinthians 13 "For now we see only a reflection as in a mirror; then we shall see face to face. Now I know in part; then I shall know fully, even as I am fully known. And now these three remain: faith, hope and love. But the greatest of these is love." (NIV)

My little sister (yes, she will always be my little sister and she keeps asking me when I will drop that tag, which is never), Wanda, received a gift this Thanksgiving. I want to tell you her story, because it is better than any I could write today.

"I knew that she was in there...somewhere. Even though the years and disease had taken their toll, my Mom's spirit was still in tact. I knew it to be true. Even so, I rarely saw it. Every visit to the nursing home was more of the same nonsensical talk. Half phrases with little meaning, words with no definition, snippets of past conversations or experiences, all tumbling out in pieces with no thread of understanding or comprehension. During the past 5-6 years, I would look into her eyes and see the same hazed expression as if a veil had rendered her blind to reality. She didn't know me anymore. I really didn't think I could ever reach her again.

Until Thanksgiving Day 2012.

My family, along with Mom and Dad, gathered for dinner at the nursing home and I explained to my kids (again) that though Alzheimer's held her captive, inside of her was a spirit that is still sane, aware and crying for freedom. I know our spirits are eternal and that there is that deep place within that still connects reality to eternity.

I turned to her as she looked at me. I began to tell her how much she is loved. I told her how much God loves her and how special she is. I continued to gaze in her eyes with hope, not really expecting anything, but reaching deep to see if I could get in somehow. happened. Without any expectation, something began to change. Instead of looking away in distraction and disinterest, she locked her eyes on mine.

A veil was lifted. A door opened. Her gaze fixed on mine and her countenance changed from that of a prisoner to one being set free. She began to weep. Pent up sorrows and grief started to pour out. She knew. She felt. She was peeking out.

As I sat in stunned silence, I began to feel her cry for freedom. Her spirit emerged to release pain and anguish of unanswered questions and doubts. With pleading eyes, she voiced her fears, "I don't know if it was enough", "I can't do it anymore..." In broken phrases, she tried to express what was deep within. When words did not come, her eyes spoke volumes. Her eyes turned bright blue, clear and fixed on mine. No glazed look, but the look of one who had finally been awakened after a deep, long sleep.

She wept. She grasped my hand and leaned into me for solace. She knew we were listening and we understood. We sat and allowed the tears to roll in the presence of angels. God was there. We were one in spirit and felt the Father's immense love for this daughter of His who had been weighed down with years of worry and fear. God revealed His heart and His love, and set her spirit free momentarily.

My family sat is stunned silence, thanking our loving God for this brief awakening. Love poured out and spilled over us for about 30-40 minutes. Soon, her eyes began to fade and her conversation turned to disconnected and random thoughts. The door closed. The awakening was over. For now. Though things returned to what they will probably continue to be until we all reach our heavenly home, I know that Mom will be different. Her spirit within, the very core of her personality was showered with love and grace.

We will be different too. A taste of the feast to come. We know that this is the joy that is before us as His children. This is reason enough for Thanksgiving, and one we will never forget."

And yes, this is the reason for Christmas. He came as a babe, unknowing and innocent. And awakened our souls to provide us hope and assurance of everlasting light.

Dear Jesus, Thank you for awakenings. Amen.

Carole Schumacher

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