The following thoughts were written at Thanksgiving 2010. My mother died 5 months later. I reread these words every holiday season to remind myself of the important things in life. So, forgive me for posting something from the past, but indulge me. You might find it meaningful for you this holiday season.
Here I am sitting in my Mom’s and Dad’s little house awaiting the Thanksgiving meal. But this year things are different. My mother’s cognitive ability is slowly deteriorating. She is struggling to prepare the meal. It’s something she’s done with ease hundreds of times over the course of her life. Some days it’s the short term memory she fights to grasp. Other days it’s the long term memory that eludes her.
She talks to herself allot these days–almost constantly. Even the smallest mundane activities that you and I perform without thinking, she laboriously thinks through them then congratulates herself when accomplished with short words like, “Yes!” “That’s it!” “Nice” “Beautiful!” “Yes!”
In a very strange-bittersweet-but-inspiring-kind of way, God is reminding me today, that there is beauty in the “common and ordinary.” “Yes!” “That’s it!”
This morning God woke me up in a warm bed. “Yes!” “Nice!” “Beautiful.”
I got up without medical assistance of any kind and ate a good breakfast. “Yes!“
I will not go to bed hungry today. “Um huh. Yes!”
I will sit at table with my wonderful parents who have served God in full-time ministry for most of their lives. “Yes” “Nice!”
I get to worry and struggle over an Ethics paper and presentation due in less than 2 weeks. “Nice!“
I get to enjoy this amazing seminary journey with so many wonderfully articulate and compassionate people. “Beautiful!”
I get to face the struggles and challenges of ministry that will send me to my knees. “Nice!”
I get to go to work, interact with wonderful people, fight the day to day battles and make a living to support my family. “Nice!”
God grant us the child-like faith necessary to see the beauty and experience the wonder of “flashing lights and lowering crossing bars!” (the common and ordinary) Help us to see life through the eyes of children and aging dementia patients. (It doesn’t take 9 volumes of Church Dogmatics and 4 years of seminary to expose the truth.) “Yes!” “That’s it!” “Nice.” “Beautiful!”
Be blessed, my friends, and be thankful! “Yes!” “That’s it!”
In the later years of her life, after the cancer and multitude of chemo treatments had taken their toll on her body, my mother did not like to have her picture taken. Of course, we too could see the manifestation of the rapacious appetite of the drugs and disease and respected her request. But, I always managed to get her to be in a photograph with me. And although the photograph is not very flattering, it is a priceless picture, nonetheless.