Family members were on edge. A beloved aunt had died, and all her grown nieces and nephews were gathered in her home to figure out how to dispose of her lifetime of belongings. You could feel the tension. Old hurts were close to the surface. Fear reigned in everyone’s heart as they worried that they would not get their due. Though they didn’t realize it at the time, fueling all the fear and tension was the pain of having lost someone who had always loved them so well. Then a cousin held up a fancy old parasol. “Remember how she always used to bring this down to the beach when we were playing in the sand?” Chuckles filled the room and the fear began to evaporate. Fred chimed in, “And remember how she used to dress up so elegantly just to go play bingo?” Smiles and tears mingled as the stories tumbled out. A lifetime of stories, this was the real treasure to be shared.

The scripture readings this week all deal with change—radical change. We are called upon to be like John the Baptist and “prepare the way of the Lord.” In our homes and workplaces we do that in many ways. It may be a gentle joke, an insightful comment, a request for forgiveness, standing up for truth, or even a gesture like a hug or a pat on the back. But in that moment, everything changes. The rough places have been made smooth.