Widow

Today I feel led to write about Jesus and his treatment, opinion and honor of women.  Seems to me he went out of his way to level them with men who traditionally put us in a lower category.  2,000 years ago, Jesus was pretty advanced.  I am thinking of the story of “The Widow’s Mite”.  Apparently, people were lined up, dropping various sums of money into the offering plate, and those who were watching commented on how large some of the donations were.

Jesus had noticed a widow in line, who dropped in a tiny amount, but he recognized it was all she had to live on.  In other words, she gave it ALL.  He said, “She has put in more than anyone else.”  This truthful observation shocked some who did not even notice the mite, as it fell among the gold and silver beneath it.

I can picture her moving forward, being jostled about in her faded clothing, aware of her lowly status in such a crowd.  Her feet were probably hurting, and maybe she had poor vision.  But she was on a mission.  She had a penny in her hand, and she wanted to make an offering.  Without fanfare, she let it drop into the receptacle and Jesus noticed.  This tiny event from such a long time ago is recorded in the Bible because Jesus  said, “All the others put in out of their wealth, but she out of her poverty, put in all she had to live on.”

All she had to live on.  Seriously?  If all I had was five dollars, and had not had lunch yet, I doubt I’d drop it into the offering plate at church!  Yet this is what she did, and without expectation of any kind of return.

Jesus recognized her for doing so, and despite the many lofty thoughts running through his mind on this ordinary day, commented on it.  It was included in the Bible for all posterity.  A singular honor for a mite.

The widow gave 100%.  Jesus noticed.  He found it remarkable. 

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Blood Crying Out from the Ground

Blood Sweat and Tears. Number 2

Blood Sweat and Tears. Number 2 (Photo credit: Jakob E)

When Cain killed his baby brother Abel, he thought he got away with it, but the Bible says God confronted him, saying, “His blood cried out to me from the ground.”  It isn’t that God did not see the murder as it happened, but the death was just the beginning of the story.  Cain, in typical sociopathic fashion had already put it out of his mind.  He felt no remorse.

God asked him where his brother was, and Cain replied, “I don’t know.”  Then in an even more off-hand remark, “Am I my brother’s keeper?” or in today’s syntax, “How should I know?  I don’t care where he is or what he is doing.”  But the blood soaked soil was ringing into God’s ears at that very moment.

To GOD he said this!  Lying to God’s face is a not a good idea, and Cain paid the price.  He was not struck down, but God put a mark on him, and cursed the ground that had been his line of work.  Cain, from that point on, wandered the world as a marked man.

I have to wonder if this is true of all murders.  Because blood is an important life force, I believe it is.  If so, America is a blood soaked land.  In thinking it over, we must stop lying to ourselves, especially but to God in particular.  We should CARE.  And we do, momentarily, but ten minutes after hearing of another victim we forget about her.  We move on, as if we are not her keeper…

Think of the number of outright murders (in the world at large) we have processed during our lives!  Even if you limit it to premeditated murder, it is a huge number!  Limit it to just America and it is still astonishing.  Daily we hear of another and another and another…and we have come to accept it.  But this unending violence in our streets and homes is sickening beyond comprehension.  All this blood!

This blood cannot be disregarded by a civilized society.  We must never even think of saying to ourselves, much less to God, “How should I know?  Am I responsible for others?”

America’s society of tolerance and restraint has arrived at the point we cannot go on and remain a civilized society.  The violence against innocent women and children at least should force us to cry out to each other and to the Holy God Himself.  We are each other’s keeper, and to continue believing we are only responsible for our own selves and our own well-being is just too thin a cover.

A Scarlet Thread

Mom, I think Jesus was anti-woman.”  I was 22, and everyone knew Mom was a Bible Scholar, deeply immersed in the Bethel Series http://www.bethelseries.com/home.aspx which was an honor in itself.  A handful of students had been carefully selected by the pastor of our church.  It was a two-year commitment, and at the end, these ten hand-selected people would be certified to teach the series to anyone who wanted to attend.

“Why do you say that?” she asked, surprised by my statement, but not threatened.

“Well, he had twelve disciples, and every single one was a MAN.”  I gazed into the face of my mom, expecting her to say I never thought of that! but what she actually said was, “True, but why do you think that was?”

“Because he was anti-woman, and if he despised them then, he probably doesn’t care about them now.”

She nodded, thinking of what she should say to this bit of blasphemy.  I did not flinch.  I waited.

Finally she said, “Tell you what, why don’t you do a Bible study on the life of Jesus as regarding women, and only women, and see what you find.”

I felt a little naked, because I was no Bible scholar.  I was flippant, self-satisfied, and careless regarding things of the faith.  I had been coasting on her coat tails, using her wisdom and knowledge as a convenience during the tough questions of life.

But I heartily accepted her challenge, narcissistically thinking if I could prove Jesus was anti female, I could debunk the rationale for following him.  (It was the early seventies, and most young women had burned their bras by then.  I was probably not wearing my own during this conversation.)

She kind of chuckled and said, “Remember one thing:  It was the men who fell away when he needed them most.  It was the women who stayed by his side.”

I left the house, and went back to my apartment, anxious to delve into my Bible study, determined to uncover examples of females being second class citizens.  Did it not say in the Bible story of his birth, “Glory to God in the highest, and on earth good will to men on whom his favor rests.”?  In the shallow waters of my biblical knowledge, I had openly challenged the Bible in its entirety with a Sunday school understanding of the Christmas story, the Easter story and the saga of the Jews roaming around the desert for forty years, until the ten commandments had been written on stone a couple of times.  Such was the naiivete of my approach!

Mom laughed as I went, unfazed by her wayward daughter, which made me even more resolute.  I am not proud of this history, but I will be forever grateful my mother did not “teach” me in that moment.  She invited me to teach my SELF, and I had no idea what I was about to discover.

The first story to occur to me was the story of his birth.  It made sense to me to begin at his beginning, and follow his life chronologically as he went along, underlining in RED, the many places where he would favor men over women.  What can I SAY?  It made sense to me at the time.

I found out Jesus (in utero) was a human child fathered by the Holy Spirit of God.  I had always accepted this, but it had never occured to me the human, flesh, natural part of him was no man, but issued from a woman, female, and God could have done it any other way, but selected a woman, and not one of any stature, but a young and “ordinary” woman.  The biological DNA of Jesus was female in origin.  God paired with a female to bring about the Son of Man!

At the time, I found this truth astounding.  I closed the Bible, looked out the window and sat there alone, contemplating the meaning of this news, realizing it changed everything I had previously believed.  It wasn’t I had never heard it.  I was schooled in it from birth, but I had never realized it.  From that moment I wondered what ELSE I had heard, but failed to understand.

There is a lineage of four women listed as progenitors of Jesus.  They were Tamar, Rahab, Ruth and Bathsheba, not one of them “pure” even by modern standards!  Rahab, for example is labeled as a prostitute.  She is the woman who played an absolutely pivotal role in the story of the Israelites who were preparing to overtake the city where she was “working”.  Laughing…some versions call her an “innkeeper”!

Anyway, somehow two spies were sent into the city to see what they would be up against if they attacked the great city of Jericho.  She took them in, and told them the entire city and all its men were terrified, and emotionally unprepared to resist these special people of God, which was critical information.  When soldiers from the city came looking for the spies, Rahab hid them under stalks of flax on her roof.  She told the soldiers the spies had left, but she did not know which direction they had taken.  The soldiers left the city to hunt them down.  When it was safe, the Israeli spies came down and thanked her.  But she wanted something in return:  She brokered a deal with them to allow her and her family safety when her city of Jericho was attacked.  They would not be killed.

Rahab and the Emissaries of Joshua

Rahab and the Emissaries of Joshua (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

They agreed she would hang a scarlet cord out her window, and she and her family would be spared during the battle of Jericho.  The grateful spies returned to camp and told the Israeli army about the scarlet cord signal ahead of time.  As the story goes, she and her family were the only survivors who walked away.  The battle left neither man nor woman, nor child, nor animal after the walls fell down.  Only Rahab and her mother and brothers walked away.

She joined the victors and lived as part of them thereafter.  An ordinary woman played an extraordinary role in one of the most famous battles ever recorded!  Her life was spared as a reward.  It all seemed so random at the time.  She probably blended in after that.

“God uses the foolish things of this world to confound those things that are wise.”  Rahab was one of the foolish, a street person, and one of female gender.  Even now, a woman of the streets is almost invisible as far as influence in society.  Back then it was more so.

She had no idea it had been anything more than a “deal” even while living out the remainder of her days.  She was a woman of desperation who chose to trust the enemy instead of taking her chances on the streets of Jericho.  She knew the meanness of those streets and the people who walked on them.  She took a chance, and lived to tell the story of how she saved her family with a scarlet cord hung out the window.

She had no idea she would eventually be mentioned in the lineage of Jesus, no awareness he would share her DNA when he was born.  But this is exactly what happened.

No life is random.

F.R.O.G.

I have been reluctant to broadcast my personal relationship to God, because I do not consider myself a very good example of what a Christian should look and act like.  Still, at the very heart of my writing God’s guidance is evident.  Each thing I produce has to past the sniff test of truth, as I understand it before I can expect anyone else to listen!

“Frog” is kind of code among Christian believers.  It is an acronym for Fully Rely On God.

In a confusing array of choices, I take comfort in the guidance of a higher being, one who sees and knows everything.  To know He has a plan, and I am part of it, and not all of it, helps me find security in my reason for existing.  I write from that source.

Often I think about my host of friends who choose not to believe in divine authority.  As God is my witness, I do not look down on them because of this.  I consider them very dear friends, and accept them just as they are, and they do me.  But to drop my pride and reveal I am a “Christian” will cost me something.   To affiliate with those who boldly fly the banner of Christ may cause  finger-pointing by those who consider themselves better Christians…I will never be able to withstand their withering glares, and whispers of unacceptance, and the judgement and rejection.

But to step out and fully rely on God demands I do so publicly.  I have been flamed, brow beaten, disrespected and rejected at times when I timidly shared my faith with someone who was skeptical.  It is a rare atheist who will politely tolerate a Christian’s viewpoint without openly reviling it.  These bullying events have scared me,  and although I remained resolute, I became very cautious.  I became covert, which only served to make me look odd to believers and unbelievers alike!

I do not attend church.  I deliberately work on Sundays because nobody else wants to.  I enjoy sitting quietly at my desk, thinking my own thoughts, praying, working on things I was too busy to work on during the past week.  This day of preparation for the following week is an important service to every one of my co-workers.  I like to think of it as a “sacrifice” I make on behalf of others, to enable them to attend services, be with their families, and so on.  It is pure joy, and I think God accepts it as my Sabbath, or day of rest.

I am deeply embarrassed by “Bible thumpers” and strident Christians who proclaim their own righteousness by disparaging others.  They list their own credentials, and their list of good deeds like a well rehearsed speech on why they qualify to carry the name “Christian”.  When I study God’s Word, I never find where Christ himself ever did this.  It was the Pharisees who acted in such indignant self-righteousness that Jesus rebuked them openly.  No other group received such a severe tongue lashing as this group!

Of course they were angry, and ultimately silenced Jesus by arranging his death.  I think the rest of the story is well-known.  The idea of a human being rising from the dead is a hard thing to convince really happened.  The idea Jesus was a God/Man is even more difficult!  These basic tenets of Christianity are based on faith, not reason.  Each human being is perfectly well-known by God, yet we regard God as a fantasy because of our lack of knowledge about Him.  Our unbelief, though reasonable, does not change the truth of God one bit.  We are free, absolutely free in our choice to bathe in his light, or flee from it.

I relate more closely with the “woman at the well” who  went to draw water at an odd time of day, after all the “righteous” women had finished.  This woman was well-known as a local prostitute, and had a long history in her small town as one who had made wrong choices and was no longer welcome in polite society.  Guess who came to that well at the very same time?  It was the unknown Jesus, a carpenter from the area.

A casual observer in those days would have been astonished and outraged.  No self-respecting Jewish man spoke to any woman in public, much less one of her pedigree.  Yet Jesus did.  But why?  She had no credentials, no authority, no money, nothing of value at all.

Despite this, they had a long conversation together, about her history, her past, and her present.  It was an honest and surprisingly accurate discourse, and she was quite astonished.  But there was no condemnation, despite her record.  She was a Samaritan, not even one of the “Chosen People”.  She had no idea who Jesus was, but she said, “I know that Messiah, (called Christ) is coming.  When he comes, he will explain everything to us.”  and Jesus answered, “I who speak to you, am he.”  This public harlot was the very first person on the planet Jesus revealed he was actually the Messiah!  Openly, and in full view of everyone, she was the first to hear these words.   He is a rule breaker, a man without fear, and one who is able to love someone everyone else condemns.  I cannot get past a person like Jesus!

Neither did she.  She ran back to town and began to tell anyone who would listen about this encounter.  She recognized the truth, accepted it,  and shared it.  She could have refused the offer, but did not.  Each of us will eventually have the same opportunity and choice.  It has nothing to do with our own choices prior to the encounter, but everything to do with whether or not we believe Jesus can find us worth loving just as we are, in all our self judgement, shame, anger, and fear.  The acceptance Jesus demonstrated to such a woman leaves me assured any other person, including me, can be loved and accepted also!

In the coming weeks, I am going to discuss the importance of women in Jesus’ time on earth.  It is an amazing and redemptive saga.

October 4, 2012

Psalm 137

Psalm 137 (Photo credit: Mouse)

To be on the planet at all is a stupendous opportunity!  Each of us has the chance to improve conditions here, clarifying and identifying situations that could be ameliorated by our special attention.

How frequently I become overwhelmed with “things that something should be done about”!

It is so easy to get lost in the labyrinth of problems.  The planet is too large for me!  The old platitude occurs to me today:  Bloom where you are planted.  I have always chafed at the idea of being planted.  I yearn for lightness, airiness, freedom.  Still…

We all need the good earth to pull sap into our veins, to stay hydrated, to fully live.  My daily practice is to open the Holy scriptures before the day is fully underway.  Here is what I do:  I ask God to lead me to what I need.  Then, I open the Bible randomly to a place in the Old Testament, the story of the Jewish people, the chosen family of God.  His miraculous interactions with ordinary people all through it make exciting reading.  Though often callous and rebellious, God reached down to guide and protect them from their many enemies.

Next, I open randomly to the New Testament, reading the pages in front of me, and finishing at least one chapter.  They are usually short.  The sayings of Jesus are in red ink in my version.  But quite often, the passages I am reading are all in black.  Both provide immediacy and intimacy for me, drawing me (small inconsequential human) to know there is a plan, has always been a plan, and I am counted.  I have a part to play.

Next I go to Proverbs, a book of 31 chapters, one for each day.  Pithy, wise, simple to understand, if I were only be able to read one book, it would be Proverbs.  Today is October 4, so I read Chapter 4.  Verse 23 is circled in my Bible:  Above all else, guard your heart, for it is the wellspring of life.  I ponder its meaning.

Last of all, I randomly select a Psalm.  For me, the Psalms are a book of comfort and reassurance.  Once I have read a chapter, I feel refreshed and close my Bible.  The entire process is about 15-20 minutes.  If I want to, I can read more, but normally I do not.  I am a busy girl!

The immediacy of knowing God is with me, even when I seriously doubt it, as others have done since the very beginning, way before my time, and long before these books were written consoles me.  I relax, knowing it has never been just up to me to solve every temporal problem on earth.  All things work together in some mysterious way.  All we have to do is align ourselves with goodness, love, light and peace, to get a perspective of knowing when we have choices, to make good ones.  It is a VERY individual walk, yet it affects the entirety.

I must bloom today, but could not do so if I had not been firmly planted first.

Alone Time

Arkansas River Valley

Arkansas River Valley (Photo credit: Pierce Presley)

My mom told my soon to be husband, “Be sure to allow her plenty of alone time, plenty of privacy.  She needs it,” which mystified me at the time.  I had never been aware my parents knew this, or allowed it.  I was one of six children!  We were seldom “alone”.

We were not just an insular FAMBLY.  At most times, we had grandmothers, uncles, stray cousins, and “shirt tail relatives” living under our roof.  Most of my childhood consisted of various combinations of adults and children coming and going, eating and working, and going to school under my Mom‘s watchful eye.  Everyone contributed and behaved themselves, or they did not stay long.  Those who did not pass the test found themselves packing to leave within a short time.   Not many failed the test, and we all benefitted by those who remained.

So where in the world did I get noticed for needing “privacy”?  I was in the middle of the pack.  I was third daughter, with three younger brothers.  I was not the prettiest, smartest, or most athletic, but I say with no arrogance whatsoever I was the most treasured.  The mystery of my life is why.  I got noticed among the crowd and not just by my parents, but by everyone.  I did nothing whatsoever to deserve special attention, but I will admit, I loved EVERYONE, and considered myself an observer of good in others.  I believe this ability to recognize the good in others is what it was that drew people to me.

But the “need for privacy” was a something I did not know I had enjoyed until my mother said so, and by then I was grown, engaged, and nearly out of the house!  Still, when she said it, I felt understood, loved, and accepted.  I was aware for the first time what I was leaving behind.  I left laughing, and with optimism in my soul.

The years that followed left me breathless with public and private demands that sapped my strength, leaving me empty, despairing, grieving for unspeakable losses, and knowing I had never been visible to the family I produced on my own.  I had failed to exist at all, losing myself in the process of attempting to be a good wife and mother.

One day I approached the electric doors at the grocery store, and they failed to open.  I knew they were operable, as I had seen others going in before me, and they were opening as expected.  BUT THEY DID NOT OPEN FOR ME.  I stood before them, and at that moment I knew I had lost myself, and I was not visible even to an electric eye, whose opinion had been universally accepting moments before.  It was real.  I was transparent.  I did not have any substance whatsoever, and it was not my imagination as I had hoped.  I will never forget the day I knew I had ceased to exist.  As suddenly as they had blocked me, the doors opened, and I stepped in, and relief replaced despair.

My parents had died, my sister was gone, and I was living a life far from my parents’ dreams and my own.  I had no one to talk to.  I had left all familiar friends and family in places many hours from Arkansas, and I did not matter anymore, to those closest to me, to those I had invested in most heavily, my husband and half grown children.

It was “alone time”.  I am not able to describe that day with any kind of clarity, but I can say I was keenly aware something had gone very wrong, and it would be up to me to set things right.  This much I knew:  Nobody else could see me, and if I were to become visible, I had to change my life.

I took my groceries home, put them away and made supper, acting out my role the same as always.  Even my closest child noticed nothing.  But I knew, deep inside, that I existed. That I was visible.  That God made me, sent me, and valued me, and would take me home someday.  I knew I mattered, and I realized it was pointless to be “perfect” anymore.  I had given all my goodness away to those who did not even care.

Oddly, this was not the end, but the beginning.

A “heavenly” Father

It is said the father we had during our formative years is the precursor to our relationship to God, the Father of all living things.  For it is during those early years we observe and absorb all our earthly fathers say and do with us, for us, and near us.

Was he constant?  Truthful? A willing provider, of not just material stuff, but of his wisdom and time?  Did he love our mother?  More specifically was he abusive?  Absent? Unreachable in some way?  All of these experiences play into our perceptions about the Creator of the Universe, free of any specific “religious” teachings.

My own father was fully human.  My father was fully human.  What does that mean?  I have a laundry list of proofs of his foibles, dalliances, and idiosyncrasies.  I was not even privy to most of his record, and certainly what I did learn was enough to let me know he was a man confident of his own place in life which he occupied it in a way that the rest of us learned to accept.  Had we not accepted it, it would have made little difference to him.  He was first a man, and next a man of God, and third…there was no third thing.  He was fully human and knew God intimately, and the rest of it was “onaconna”.  

Onaconna.  Know what it means?  Neither did I and probably still do not fully understand its full meaning, but like “Hakuna Matata” in the movie Lion King, it applied to so many things in our vibrant family life, and was used in situations like:

“Dad, why can’t I go to the movie with my friends?”

“Onaconna.”

“Why do you make us go to church?”

“Onaconna.”

“Why do we have to be home for supper every night at five o’clock?”

” Onaconna.”

“Why don’t you like this guy I am dating?”

” Onaconna.”

What it meant was, “I have set a boundary, and there is no arguing possible.  Onaconna is my side of things.  Go ahead, keep asking questions, I am listening.”  It was frustrating.

Our mother was the polar opposite.  She lived for our arguments, ideas, and emotional outbursts.  She’d listen endlessly to our struggles, dreams and political ideas, offering opposite views just to make us grow and think.  She was “devil’s advocate” in every discussion, and we loved to come at her with our best thoughts, and have her take us down, so we could gain an even sharper edge.

Dad was firmly, simply, entrenched in his positions, leaving us no doubt about what they were, and he listened to us by the hour, and we changed him not.  He was my second choice in which parent to talk to.  I do not believe it was simply because he was a`man, either.  I think it was because I had some very valid ideas of my own, contrary to his, and I was not going to change my mind.  Hearing his opinion, followed by “onaconna” would have been fruitless.

Oddly, once I had survived them both, I began to fully comprehend what an important role he played in our lives, and how he influenced my thinking, even when I was not allowing it.  He had been a very good father, and I did not understand it until he was gone.  He was not perfect.  Neither were we.  BUT, never once, ever, did we doubt he loved us.  Why did he love us?  Onaconna.

Before I was born, there was a dark chapter in my parents’ lives.  A son was born, named, celebrated, and died within days of a diagnosis which would be an easy fix today.  His esophagus was not fully open to the stomach.  His milk would come back up and he finally died of slow starvation.  They tried everything.  This loss was so unthinkable, so enormous, so incomprehensible to my mother and dad, losing their first born son, that it colored everything  for the rest of their days.  They never got over it and we all knew there were seven of us, not six.

I was born three years after the funeral service, burial, and shocks had passed.  Their hope was for a boy.  I was a girl.  Mom sorrowed at hearing this, and apologized over and over to my dad, who was inexplicably overjoyed with his new baby girl.  Nobody could believe he did not care he had another daughter.  He was transfixed.  This is my “story” which I lived, but do not remember.

In retrospect, I think my father was overjoyed God had sent another baby.  He could barely contain his relief.  I believe he felt he had deserved to lose his son, and that God had been justified in taking him away as a “punishment”.  I am out on thin ice in my assessment, but somehow I have the impression my dad was rather free spirited until confronted with this terrifying loss.  My mom told me he went to his knees over it and never recovered until after I was born, both the beginning and the ending to an imperfect story, and no replacement but a brand new thing.

Dad named me.  The name “Tandy” came out of his heart and mind, and no argument from my mother could change it.  We were all pretty surprised to find out I was “Baby girl”  Holter when I applied for a certified copy of my birth certificate after I turned eighteen.  I had remained nameless, which is rather unbelievable, and probably left a mark, but I do not have nor do I offer any kind of explanation or guess how it impacted me to learn it.

My dad had been so intractable in his position that I remained without a name until I earned control of it  for myself.  I had reached maturity and despite never liking my own name, I chose to keep it.    A Tandy simply cannot become a Jane, or a Linda, or a Kathy.  Why not?  Onaconna.  (I can picture him now reading this, smiling with his bright smile, nodding and looking very pleased, not so much with me, but with himself.  It was never about winning the argument, but about having things settled in the right way.)

Now that I think about it, my dad and I were very close, despite our many disagreements and basic internal differences.  We always kidded around that the two of us were so well liked because we were “so NICE.”  Yes, we’d laugh, “We are just plain NICE.”   Mom would roll her eyes hearing us, and we’d accuse her of being jealous.

It was all a big put on of course.  We’d be the first to admit we were ugly, painfully flawed in all the important ways, and that everyone else was just generous enough to accept us at face value, frauds that we were.  It is kind of hard to explain how we got along, and how we truly accepted each other, viewing one another as nearly perfect and our imperfections were just too lovable to hate or despise.  This unconditional personal regard was extremely comfortable for us, and we never took it for granted, exactly, but never gave it much thought either.

I really cannot write about this.  I cannot.  Dad was just an ordinary man.  Yet he wasn’t.  His extraordinary days of life with us would sound like an epic tale, or a work of fiction.  He was that great.  He had few enemies.  He came from humble beginnings, and made good.  He was punctual, steady, constant, and just a solid human being.  I knew him well.  We both knew  of his dark side.  I knew of mine.   But even though he never tried to hide his, he would never acknowledge mine.  He was openly flawed.  He had an honest relationship with God, and never apologized for his humanity.

In this way, he demonstrated to each of us, how a father should love his children.  He loves you just the way you ARE, and stands ready to assist you in overcoming whatever life is doing to you at any given point.  It is never about measuring up, or putting on any kind of false front.  It is about being fully yourself, making no apology, and feeling assured you are worthy of love every second of every day, no matter what.  His love for us was incomprehensible, all encompassing, and had nothing to do with merit or any other kind of caprice.  It was his to give, Onaconna, which means  “On account of”,  “because” and “I say so, and there is nothing more to be said about it.”  “My decision to love you IS, and will always be unchangeable and unwarranted, so you might as well relax and just be who you are.”

He was just plain NICE.