Friday, December 15, 2006

The Retirement Home...

I was ready to speak~
I entered the room wearing my festive red Christmas sweater.
The one covered in snow men, decorated trees, and little gold bells that reflected the sunlight streaming in on all the elderly people who were waiting.

They looked up and smiled- I hugged old Mr. Saunders, and tiny little Mabel,
and anyone who looked in my direction. Some were in wheelchairs, some scooted in with their
walkers, and some sat quietly with their hands folded on the table.
I was in a room full of ancient people, all colors, different back grounds, and most in their late years of life...80, 90, a few close to 100.

We sang songs like "Heavenly Sunshine", "Sweet By and By", and "Nearer to Thee".
Old Hymns I don't often hear, but as I looked across the room at the faces singing back to me- I could see these dear people had known these songs all of their life.
Even the hunched-over woman in a special chair, who couldn't lift her head was mouthing the words of the songs.

They are almost radiant- as if a fading light inside got a new busrt of energy. They were connecting with something internal- and it never fails to touch me.

After songs, birthday announcements, and prayer requests, I was not "introduced", but I was welcomed :)
Everyone there knows me because I've been comming for almost a year.

Sometimes I re-tell a story, or read a book that seems appropriate, but usually I try to bring a message of hope and encouragement through something I've read in the Scripture.

Today the story was not exactly about Christmas- it was about an old childless priest, his equally old wife, and young girl who was engaged to be married.

An Angel visited the old priest in the Temple, and the young girl probably at home:

The old man was silenced for his doubt, but he and his wife were still given a much prayed for son.
The young girl was blessed and would become one of the most well known mothers in the world.

I shared how Christmas really began- with a doubter and his wife who was well past childbearing age, and girl too young to really grasp what was happening.
I was struck at how ordinary the people were that God used to further His purpose.

He used people just like me...doubtful, afraid, too old, young, and ordinary.

Oh- and faulty. He often used people who had made mistakes.

I closed our gathering with a prayer- and waited as some of the elderly people made their way out...hugging me again as they went.
One lady whispered in my ear, "Honey, I love the way you told that story- and I really needed to hear it." Then she paused and looked into my eyes and said,
"I often doubt when I need to trust...Thank you, and bless you."

I felt myself tear up.

I love these older people- and I know they are wiser than me.
They have lived long lives full of ups and downs, and made good decisions and bad-
and understand more about life than I do. They are remarkable folks who are walking
the final stretch of their race- and I should be sitting at their feet- listening, rather than
speaking to them.

I suddenly felt so ordinary.
And unworthy-

And with that feeling-
I barely began to understand how an old priest and a young girl felt, in the presence of an Angel-Months before the very first Christmas...

Silent night, holy night
All is calm, all is bright
Round yon virgin, mother and child
Holy infant so tender and mild
Sleep in heavenly peace
Sleep in heavenly peace

Silent night, holy night
Shepherds quake at the sight
Glories stream from heaven afar
Heav'nly hosts sing Alleluia
Christ the savior is born
Christ the savior is born

Silent night, holy night
Son of God, love's pure light
Radiant beams from thy holy face
With the dawn of redeeming grace
Jesus Lord, at thy birth
Jesus Lord, at thy birth


Little Lamb said...

I enjoyed that story. It's not often I get to be first here.

Mayden's Voyage said...

Thanks Little Lamb...and glad to see you 1st this morning :)
Merry Christmas~

Little Lamb said...

Merry Christmas to you!

Libby said...

beautiful, cora! brought tears to my eyes...*smearing my mascara...thanks! :-)*

Mayden's Voyage said...

Thank you Libby- Hope you have a wonderful holiday...
I'm reminded often how blessed I am- and how much of that I take for granted~

Merry Christmas friend! Hugs to you too :)

X. Dell said...

I'm sure that your audience enjoyed the story, especially at this time of the year. They were probably happy to have your presence too.

Malinda777 said...

I used to work in a nursing home, and our church chior used to always visit. I miss those visits and the beautiful that live there.

Good for you.

Happy Holidays, Merry Christmas!

the pink reefer said...

seeing those who suffer ... or struggle ... such as these whom you've described here .... it always, always made me feel entirely unworthy - humbled is the more appropriate choice of word here. that feeling of awe and admiration and .... humility ....? its how i felt every single day i nursed. now and then i still encounter a soul that makes me feel this way.

Seven said...

This post resulted in my making an important decision. A decision that makes me feel better about myself. Just wanted you to know!

Mayden's Voyage said...

X- thank for reading this- it was personal and I wasn't sure about sharing it...

Thank you Malinda- being in a nursing home is a hard place to be-I know the residents were blessed to be around you :)

Pink- Yes...Humbled is the right word- I'm a better person in that frame of mind.

Seven- Thank you. You've given me much to ponder over the last several days (your last post has been printed and re-read several times now)...I appreciate your being here~ :) Hope you have a wonderful holiday~