Thursday, August 16, 2012

Traveling Slowly a Difficult Path




I rode my bike to go visit Mom K at the Home but she was fast asleep. Later Arvo came home from work, after visiting her, and told me she had noticed I hadn't come that day. I had told one of her friends to tell her I had been there, but it added a new struggle to the week as we start home school again. I have to try to get there every day...and do so when she is awake. Oy Vay.

I called Comer, my old friend from a different nursing home. I haven't seen him in a few weeks, though I call regularly. He rallied after doing so poorly, and is energetic again, but his feet are swollen and nothing they do can bring that down. He thinks in a week he and his wife Evelyn might be able to go for a ride with me like we used to and look at the beautiful mansions of Charlotte. He has missed that. I glanced at my calendar with penciled in events flowing into the margin and over the pretty picture of people on summer vacation. Of course we would....but when...?

My sister asked me if I was the Patron Saint of Old people. It does kind of feel that way right now. But it is important that my daughter gets a piece of my time too. We planned a kayak outing with her new church friend that we have been trying to arrange a fun day with for the whole summer. Finally today we will get to go. But I don't know how I will fit in visiting Mom K too. Somehow, I need to find a way.

Arvo came home wearily last night and told me, "I don't know how people who don't believe in Jesus do it. If I didn't have the hope of a new world beyond this one, I would just want to give up too." His mom is not getting better. I expect at age 88, it is unlikely she will. She is probably going to continue to lose awareness, strength, and the feeble hold she has on life. He visits faithfully each night after work, often to be scolded because she thinks he is her long dead husband and she wonders if he has been out carousing. When I told her recently that he was not there till after her dinner because he was working, she said with a suspicious look, "Let's HOPE so!"

Sometimes life is really hard- filled with work, obligations, and depressing circumstances. If we think it is all about *us*, then it can be overwhelming. In the end, if life is all about us, it will end up disappointing. It is not fun, but this experience with Arvo's mom is giving all of us an opportunity to give back to a mother who gave selflessly for so many years, and showing us all that we are able to do some very hard things we would never have imagined ourselves in a million years being able to do. And to do it for reasons that have nothing to do with our own joy, delight, or satisfaction. It is shaping us and fitting us into a form that would have been inconceivable a few months ago. Sometimes what God asks of us is not easy and totally not fun, but it is always best, and if we do it properly, it guides us to a new perspective about what makes life worth living.

I read a verse in Genesis that popped out with a new meaning to me. When Jacob met his brother Esau in the desert and made peace with him after years of running from him, Esau asked Jacob to travel on with him. Jacob says no, he has flocks he must care for and he must go at their pace. I always read that passage as meaning Jacob was still not trusting Esau for past wrongs, and wanted to distance himself. That may indeed be true, but I saw something else as I read that verse today. Sometimes, we as caretakers cannot travel on swiftly and delightedly to the next exciting path as we might want to if we were unencumbered. Sometimes we must slowly plod only as fast as those that we are entrusted with, the weak and the young and the old. If we go any faster than they are able, we will not be the gentle leader or companion God would have us be.

And that is the picture of God as well. He remains with us- the weak, the young, the old, the broken-hearted. He travels only so fast as we are able. And when we are too weary to walk, He carries us Home. It is not about Me; it is about Him and His refining Purpose for my part in a vast Plan I only dimly see. In the end, I will travel this journey at exactly the pace He intends for me. He is not only the friend that travels with me, but the One I travel towards.

Genesis 33:13-14 (NIV)
But Jacob said to him, “My lord knows that the children are tender and that I must care for the ewes and cows that are nursing their young. If they are driven hard just one day, all the animals will die. [14] So let my lord go on ahead of his servant, while I move along slowly at the pace of the flocks and herds before me and the pace of the children, until I come to my lord in Seir. ”



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