Single Parent Faith

Sunday, November 11, 2012

The Vulnerability of Old Age

“To feel deeply and precisely with full awareness is what opens us to both joy and sorrow.” ~Mark Nepo.

Through the corner of my eyes, I tracked a slow moving stooped figure. I was visiting a church this past Sunday, and while singing, I noticed an elderly man assisted by his walker and two women, make his way to a seat. His gaze was forced downward from a severely contorted spine.

These women appeared to be volunteers at the church. They held him as he slowly transferred his hold from the walker, to their caring hands. They offered themselves as anchors as they gingerly eased him into the seat. There seated, he was like everyone else, able to look forward.

These two women displayed utmost patience and attention to his needs. After he was seated, I half expected them to walk away, but found them loyally beside him intent on every detail of his comfort, as if he were royalty—a king perhaps.

As we continued singing, I imagined his extreme labor that morning to prepare for his arrival. I marveled at how determined he must have been to come to church. Meanwhile, hours earlier I was tempted to stay home because I was not feeling up to the long commute.

The women fidgeted with a device in hand which appeared not to be working properly. I wondered if it was a device to aid the hearing impaired. A young woman usher approached the old man and moments later a man in his forties came also to assist. In awe, I watched as this helpless man, at his most vulnerable stage in life, was surrounded by such compassion. Witness to this, immediately opened me up to a surge of overwhelming emotion.

Instantly streaming into my mind were Brandon Heath’s lyrics, “Give me your eyes.”

“Give me your eyes for just one second
Give me your eyes so I can see
Everything that I keep missing
Give me your love for humanity
Give me your arms for the broken hearted
Ones that are far beyond my reach
Give me your heart for the ones forgotten
Give me your eyes so I can see”

In this surreal moment, as everyone around me was transfixed forward as they sung, I was captivated with God’s feast surrounding me. Brandon’s lyrics were brought to life for me, as was Matthew 25:45,

“And he will answer, ‘I tell you the truth, when you refused to help the least of these my brothers and sisters, you were refusing to help me.’ ”

I was witness to the intersection of a young generation with the old, the able with the unable, while this symphony of opposites worked together as a metaphor of God’s love.

Though I was just an observer, I was touched by these strangers. We all have this power to deliver ripples, if not tidal waves, of God’s love. Perhaps all that is required of us is to request, “…Give me your eyes so I can see…” and then step in to assist.

Ella Venezia

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  1. This brought tears to my eyes. I am sometimes amazed at the kindness of others and their willingness to help those who are unable to do for themselves. Sadly there are not enough people like that in the world.

    1. Hi Cg! Glad you're back blogging again :)

      I think gratitude plays a role in our ability to step in and be compassionate. For instance, if someone is too bummed and preoccupied with their own worries and life dramas, this person is focused inward and thinking mostly of himself-- self absorbed, if you will. And in this state typically one cannot see others around them who are in need. It takes a mindset of gratitude, even in the midst of trials and challenges, to make one want to be a blessing to others.

      I think for every one of us who steps in to offer kindness, there are countless others observing what you are doing...and that observation is a powerful teacher. I think that's one way we can be a catalyst for change and grow more compassion in the world.

      Be Blessed CG!

  2. This is so beautifully written. Thanks for the reminders.

    1. Karen- Thank you for your kind words. We all need reminders :)
      Be Blessed!


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