Wednesday, January 20, 2010
"B-64, N-22, I-15"
Rachel called out the numbers in a much louder voice than I'd ever heard fall out of her mouth.
"G-78, O-52, B-1"
Shriveled hands attached to shriveled, non-gently used bodies, slowly reached for tiny plastic circles.
It was Bingo night at the nursing home.
We sat and watched the residents play.
The boys each had a card.
I was a little surprised at how eager Hayden was to totally smear the elderly at Bingo.
"We'll talk about that when we get home." I made a note to myself and kicked his chair under the table when he talked trash too much.
I wonder if anyone can leave the elderly without something "not quite right" sitting in their chest. I can't sit with someone who is 98 years old and not have monstrous, tangled thoughts mulling around in my mind on my drive home.
I'm no mother Teresa. This isn't a post about "look at me, I went to the nursing home." Rachel, from our church organized the event. I wanted to go, but it's a hard place to be. The "old folks" are precious, sweet and kind. But you have to yell at them so they can hear you, and that's weird. Talking loud makes my face hot. The elderly tell the same stories over and over like a record that needs readjusting. That can be awkward for some reason even though you're the only person aware of the spin cycle the conversation seems to be caught in.
There were times, I'll admit that one of them would cough and I would think, "What if they died...right now. right here."
I asked Aaron if he wanted to go with me and he paused. "What?," I said with a teasing head tilt. "Yes. I'll go," was his response. I stared at him...deep into his face. "Do you want to go? You don't have to go. I'll take the older boys and you can stay home with Hudson."
"There's no good reason I don't want to go, so I'm going" was his answer.
Just putting all that out there because I don't want to tell our story and jump straight to the noble parts leaving out the all the yuck.
We want to care for the elderly. We just stink at it.
Nursing homes are a hard place to visit and a hard concept to think through.
It's difficult, I think to sit face to face with reality.
We're all going to "get old."
Our parents are going to "get old."
No one likes to think about the last dance or the last day of vacation.
I found myself looking at the sweet men and women
"Who were you way-back-when, before a mob of days slowly, diligently pecked away at your outsides?"
Were you stunning?
Were you brilliant?
Were you loving?
Were you kind?
Did people want to be around you or avoid you?
So weak, so frail...
But there was a time when your son thought you were a mountain.
We were blessed last night to sit with these hidden treasures.
As I tossed around in my bed last night I couldn't help but wonder...
Surely we are missing something.
Some crucial ingredient has been lost.
I believe God created us to learn from every stage of this journey called life. I think He created us to learn from every "member" every "season" of our church body...even the weaker elements.
The church is molded in some ways by how we consider children, minister to them, and accommodate their special needs.
We learn things from babies, whether they are our own or someone else's.
I think of who I was before I had children. I am not the same person. Having my babies in my life has molded me into someone else. someone different.
The way I think and process information has changed because I am a mother.
The way I relate to God, know Him and read the Bible is not the same today on this side of motherhood.
God has used these tiny beings, God's sweet creation to teach me about the gospel and given me opportunities to live out the gospel in my life.
I can't say the same for the elderly.
I'm never around them. They are a part of the body that is removed from me and I from them.
And so I find myself wondering...is there a void in my life? Is there a black hole in my thinking, in the way I process information?
If the elderly are no longer included in the life of the church, is the church hurting? Are we missing out on God's desire to teach us through the lives of older saints?
Would we be a different group of people because of the way we cherished, cared for and made accommodations for the elderly? Would we be a more radiant bride?
After only a short time, I left that group of people last night with a clearer perspective.
An hour and half in their presence, and I was changed.
I literally felt it.
In the middle of bingo numbers being yelled (and repeated several times) I found myself sitting with Jesus
So much of what I do every day will not matter one day.
Help me live for what is eternal.
Help me to leave a legacy of faith and love.
If something big is missing in my life and in the life of the church because the "old people" are no longer there.
Posted by Hendrick Family