A Ray of Sunshine
The other day I received a phone call. It came from the oldest member of the congregation I serve; she is 101 years old. The Grande Dame was calling to check in on me!
I asked her how she was doing, and she told me she was fine. She confessed a little frustration at being sequestered to her tiny room and that the staff wanted her to walk. If you have ever seen her room, the only place to walk is around the end of her bed. What worried her was that some of her neighbors genuinely need to walk to live.
She continued by telling me that she had been calling her extended family; all are much much younger than her. She was checking in on them! She said to me that several of them seemed surprised that she was still alive (I think this was an exaggeration, so please don’t tell her). But they all seemed pleased that she would reach out to them in this strange time.
How sweet is this? During a pandemic, a 101-year-old lady is loving up her family with phone calls, concerned about her neighbors, and reaching out to her pastor to check in with him on this challenging and busy season!
Finally, she shared a story with me. In 1918, during the Spanish flu epidemic, her mom was pregnant. The doctor told her dad that it was likely that they were going to lose his wife, baby, or possibly both. She then went on to say that her mother lived well into her 90s. It occurred to me, as I did the math that the Grande Dame was that baby. I quickly said, “And now that baby is now 101 years old, sharp as a tack, and still going!”
After I hung up the phone, it occurred to me that this might have been the most theological conversation I have had throughout the Lenten season. I realized that the Grande Dame embodies HOPE!
How? This lady came into the world during a pandemic, just after the end of the “war to end all wars.” Here she is, during another pandemic, living out the commandment of Jesus Christ as recorded in the Gospel of John:
“A new commandment I give to you, that you love one another: just as I have loved you, you also are to love one another. By this all people will know that you are my disciples, if you have love for one another.”John 13:34-35
The Grande Dame is not rich in earthly standards, nor is she famous outside the relatively small circle of our community. Yet she is faithful to our Lord, loves her neighbors, and wears a t-shirt that reads, “Jersey Girls Don’t Pump Gas!”