Thursday, May 26, 2011

The Gift and the Great

This Friday is her birthday. She will be 44. She lives in an assisted living facility with a debilitating disease. Her family will be with her like they are most days. She is beautiful and loved and I will go and visit her for a few minutes. Her smile is warm and engaging and she will be happy to see me. She will welcome me to her room which is filled with photos and flowers and happy colors. We will share a time of chit-chat, lamenting about our age and how we can't believe we're as old as we are. We will laugh and hug and love each other.
This morning I read a scripture verse that I will take with me. Proverbs 18:16 says "A gift opens the way for the giver and ushers him into the presence of the great." I will take a small gift to my friend - an angel to sit on her bookshelf. She will be gracious in receiving this small token of love. But I know that the gift for her is the visit - time with another friend, time with the world that used to be hers outside of her now-confining walls, time to share and smile and pass a few minutes in the give and take of friendship.
It is hard to go. It is hard to put painful memories aside and reach out to one who needs my gift. If I let self intrude in my purpose, it will grab me and say, "It's too hard. Protect yourself from those memories of your own daughter who faced a different but same kind of disease - one that deteriorates and destroys. Run from your pain, don't return to it-- avoid thinking about it and get on with life."
I am learning that "life" is in going to hard places. One writer calls it "hiding my thorn in the rose." Life is responding to the need that pricks my heart, positions my day and points me toward the people in my life who need a rose from me. The verse says "the gift opens the way for the giver and ushers him into the presence of the great." Throughout time, gifts have ushered people into the presence of the great. Remember the Wise Men who traveled miles to find the Great One, Jesus. They were guided by a star and after delivering their gifts they were guided on by a star. Could the baby Jesus, the creator of the stars, draw them to Him and then send them on to spread the news about Him? I am strengthened by this thought of drawing me close just to send me out.
Funny, but when we go to the hard places with others, as others have visited the hard places with us, we begin to realize that they are more bearable, the heaviness is gone and hope fills our hearts. It must have something to do with being ushered into the presence of the great.
"Give others the sunshine,
Tell Jesus the rest."
(Leaves for the Quiet Hour)