The other morning I drove into the city to pick up a friend at the airport. It was foggy all the way there and at places where the road hugged the coast it was pea soup. Driving in nasty weather always puts me on edge and the result is my emotions get a bit hyper. So, instead of concentrating on how much fun it will be to see my friend again and hear his stories about printmaking in Cuba, I’m spending my time being angry at the weather. I seem to spend a good amount of time worrying about things I can not change. Anyway, this got me to thinking about my mother who had a stroke while teaching a children’s story in church.
My mother was not expected to live after the stroke, but the doctor’s did not know my mom. At one point something was said in the emergency room and it sounded to mom like they were preparing to give up on her. So she mustered up what little strength she had and whispered, “I’m not dead yet.” She survived for three more years, but they were hard years. She couldn’t go back to her home because she needed full-time care. So she ended her years in a nursing home separated from the world she so dearly loved. The left side of her body was paralyzed so she spent most of the time lying on her back relying on the care staff for all of her daily needs. Never once in all those years did I ever hear my mother complain. My sister visited mom every day and I suppose she could count on one hand the times mom bemoaned her life. On my visits I would always leave encouraged by mom’s words of support and love for me and my family. As the saying goes here on the east coast, there wasn’t a selfish bone in her body. I thought those visits with mom was my opportunity to encourage her, but it was me who received the greater blessings. Mom wasn’t a theological giant or the driving force behind the church she attended. She simply taught the children’s story and I believe it was that simple faith in God that saw her through. Jesus said, “let the children come to me, and do not hinder them; for to such belongs the kingdom of God. Truly, I say to you, whoever does not receive the Kingdom of God like a child shall not enter it.” The kingdom of God belongs to those who have the uncomplicated and pure faith of children. My mother based her faith on her assurance that God loved her and died for her. The result was she could continue to radiate joy and contentment regardless of the circumstances.
I’m driving along angry at the world for bringing me outdoors on such a foggy day. I’m frustrated because salt and sand keep getting thrown up on my windshield by cars that are going too fast for the conditions. And all of a sudden I think about my mother in that nursing home and everything changes in a second. It is true we need to slow down and count our blessings and not tie ourselves in knots over simple things that will pass. I know I need to keep asking God for peace, mercy and grace to keep my life in focus.
Be courageous and strong. No retreat and no regrets.