Pathways through Lent

Miss Winnie

Psalm 95 Exodus 9:13–35 2 Corinthians 4:1–12 Mark 10:32–45

Lent is a time for us to take stock of where we are in life. As we do, we might consider the dash—that mark on our gravestone representing the time between birth and death. How have we used our talents throughout our dash?

Some, like Miss Winnie, use their talents to bring joy to others. Known in my small hometown for her cross-stitch, she was always making something beautiful as a gift. Each Christmas, I received a package from her and would sigh as only an adolescent can, “More cross-stitch ornaments . . . ”

Until one Christmas in 1973.

At that time, I was smitten with horses. Miss Winnie, who was in the horse world, would include me in her family’s afternoon rides. Also at that time, the world’s attention had turned toward a remarkably talented racehorse: Secretariat. Miss Winnie even visited Secretariat at his Kentucky farm. When she would tell me of her visits, I was enthralled!

That Christmas, tucked under the tree was the usual gift from Miss Winnie. With a yawn I tore open the wrapping, and then—stopped. And stared. In the blue and white of Secretariat’s racing colors were the words:

1973 Secretariat Triple Crown Winner

These words were cross-stitched above a circle of chestnut-colored hair—from Secretariat!

Just a cross-stitched Christmas ornament, yes. But it encapsulates not only the talent of a horse, but also that of a woman bringing joy to others. And when I reflect upon Lent, taking a look at my own particular talents and how I use them, I think of Miss Winnie and her life.

What a dash.

–Alma Paty


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