These mittens are old - at least 15 years - and they were a Christmas gift from a former colleague of mine. I rarely wear them, and I am not sure why I kept them (let alone brought them to Africa) except that they remind me of the gift-giver.
Dondi was the receptionist at the church where I used to work. She was the one who answered the phones and helped people who walked into the office. She was, in other words, the point of entry for anyone contacting the church. And she was the bravest woman I ever met.
Dondi battled cancer for many years. This is not so unusual in and of itself, but Dondi battled a vicious cancer - one that infiltrated nearly every cell of her body. How she managed to gather the resolve to come into work every day I'll never know. It was obvious that Dondi battled with pain - her body gave that away - but her face and her spirit were bubbling with life.
"It's a beautiful day at Big Valley Grace Church! How may I help you?" was Dondi's way of answering telephone calls. When the phones weren't ringing she was busy sewing puppet costumes or planning lessons for children's church. If a staff member walked through the office hurriedly, feeling overwhelmed by the challenges of the day, Dondi would stop them, cause them to pause, and simply dance with them for a few minutes. Dancing with a woman who is fighting for her life tends to put things in perspective.
Dondi finally succumbed to cancer after a seven-year-battle, passing away on Resurrection Sunday (how fitting) fourteen years ago. The first place I ever took my newborn daughter was to Dondi's funeral. And now - 15 years later - I am sitting at a computer wearing these warm, cosy (and highly impractical) mittens, wondering "What's this all about?"
You may not be the point of entry for a church, or even an office, but you may be the point of entry to something else. Indeed, may I suggest that all of us are points of entry in one form or another - to Hope, perhaps. Healing. Faith. Reconciliation.
May I also suggest that - no matter what challenges or circumstances cross our paths - we pause and take the time to dance for a few minutes, because despite all that ails us and threatens to rob us of joy, "It's [still] a beautiful day"... wherever you are in the world.