"What He ordains for us each moment is what is most holy, best, and most divine for us." Jean-Pierre de Caussade

Thursday, November 25, 2010

Just One Thing More....

I never make it through a Thanksgiving Day without remembering a particular incident that occurred some 12 years ago. In fact, I pray I never forget it. Here is my journal entrance dated 7/10/98...

I glanced around the room and thought to myself, "How sad." Though she lives in a huge antebellum home, her world exists within the confines of this small, square space. I had already noticed that when I drove up to the side of the house and got out of my car that the black shudders were barely hanging on their hinges, weeds had all but overtaken the yard and the house and that the steps were rotting. When I knocked, she didn't approach and let me in. I just opened the door and called her name. She heard and gave me entrance. This particular day, the curtains were drawn, lights were off; just a few rays filtered through whatever slits in the drapes they could find. It took a moment for my eyes to adjust. Attached to her small room was an even smaller kitchen/porch that had been added for convenience, I'm sure. A caretaker comes once a day to cook a meal for her and see to her needs. A portable toilet sat directly next to her bed. Sitting slightly angled to one other, we occupied the only chairs available. Two little bowls of candy, one with peppermint and the other with chocolate, rested on the small, round table that separated us. She confessed that cheese straws were kept hidden under her chair for really special guests. Her television set with a Bible and a magnifying glass tucked up under its stand completed the circle and seemed to make up the 3rd guest at our little party.

And so we visited. To be 96 years old, her mind is really quite sharp. She reminded me much of my own grandfather with her ability to remember details. She said she was watching the Braves tonight, able to call many of their names, but that there were several shows on CNN she enjoyed, too.

Because her eyesight is now so poor, she admitted to me that she cheats when she reads her Bible. "Cheat? How do you cheat when you read your Bible?" I questioned. "Oh, that's easy," she said. "I just 'read' the passages I know by heart. " I asked which ones that might be and she named Psalms 1, 23, and 100.

She talked about her family -- past and present. Both her dad and her husband died when they were 51 years old and she has lived as a widow for 45 years now. She has also lived in this same house all of her 96 years -- except, of course, when she went to Wesleyan College some 80 years prior. And though a staunch Baptist, she was quite proud of the fact that she is a direct descendant of Susannah Ansley Wesley! Quite a heritage, I must admit.

Living right across the street from the local United Methodist Church, she loves hearing the carillon bells chiming. She told me that one particular day, "Count Your Many Blessings" rang through the air, and so she decided, "Well, I'll do just that. I'll count my blessings -- I'll name them 'one by one'." And then she added, "However, I have so many, that by the time I got to 87, I was tired and just quit counting."

What a humbling moment for me as I sat there with this nanogenarian (and, yes, that's a real word -- I looked it up). Here is a woman whose entire existence is all within a 20 foot radius; whose only contact with the world is through a house phone, who cannot even walk outside and get her morning paper, and SHE tells ME she had to quit counting her blessings when she got to 87 because she just had so many.

O God, have mercy and forgive me for my murmuring and my complaining. Forgive me for my ingratitude and thanklessness. You have indeed given me so much! I ask for just one thing more: a grateful heart.

Just an ordinary moment...

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