In 1977, Easter fell on April 10.
I know this not because I have this fantastic memory of the year when I was not quite six years old, but because of unity.
You see, this little red book with the age-yellowed, unlined pages that I hastily scribble in used to belong to my Grandmother Robinson.
When Momma and Daddy and I cleaned out the farm house after my grandfather died, we found this book. It had been tucked away, full of blank pages, in some forgotten corner of a long-unused closet.
Inside, there is a little card. It reads: “Just a little nothing book for you. Love, Ebie.”
This book was gifted to my grandmother by her mother, my great-grandmother Eva Cundiff Melvin, after whom I was named.
Merriam Webster tells me that this word – unity – was first used in the fourteenth century. It filters backward through time:
Latin — unitat, unitas, unus … one
I hold this book in my hands and I become one with so much.
Grandmother Robinson died in 2006, yet, when I hold this little nothing book, we are one. My Ebie died in the early 1990s, yet, when I see her inscription, we are one. The book. The name. The religious day.
And now, because I wrote these words and posted these words, we are also united. We are one.
My beloved music man took me on a special date for lunch on this Ash Wednesday. Our lunch selections were narrowed down to Wendy’s or a place on Main Street. The place on Main Street – Paradise Café – won. It is located in the world’s tallest three-story building, with deep and rich colored paint inside and out. Paradise Café held for us a divine appointment we did not expect. We went for food. We actually received oneness in a Vietnamese dish called Pho.
Mr. Lee, the owner, showed us how to mix the ingredients of the sauces, how to stir them into the broth, brought another bowl and encouraged us to share. He came back and back to our table, intent on our pleasure, intent on the fellowship. Every time, we learned a little more, were united a little more.
Pho is a traditional Vietnamese comfort food. It was his late wife’s favorite dish. He cooked it for her. When they traveled together, they would get lost in foreign cities while looking for the best place to share the dish that defined their love. He honored her memory by sharing it with us.
In that moment, we were united at a table, made one with another couple we didn’t know, another country we had never visited, another history that joined ours, and made closer to each other.
It was haunting, in a way. And … it was sacred.
Our histories and our futures.
Our one-ness in a moment when we didn’t even know we needed it.