By April Terry (http://faithwarming.blogspot.com)
The first time I saw the woman that I am going to call Francis, she wasn’t happy. I recall asking her if she was ill, and she kind of shook her head. I usually tell the unhappy seniors at our ministry that if nothing else, they might enjoy the music and I try to be as cheerful as possible. Since we only go once a month, several weeks go by before we see our seniors again. Sometimes, I get a sense of when their time is drawing near. They slump a little more and they sleep more during the service. I thought we were going to lose Francis that day because she was so unhappy, but Francis surprised me.
Over the months, there seemed to be a slow transition with Francis. One day, she made sure that I knew that she was smiling and I acknowledged how great it was to see her happy. A couple of months ago, Francis told me that she had been saving up her medications so that she could overdose on them. She said that she didn’t think she had any reason to go on until she came to our service. The following month, Francis was there on the front row smiling a huge smile clutching a new bible to her breast. I barely recognized her because she was transformed. Transformed by hope.
Francis’ story is only one of many since we started this senior ministry, but I have learned so much about hope through it. I have learned that people often lose hope, but that it is often easily restored through love and tenderness. I have seen that the smallest of kindnesses can become the most meaningful to others. Hope is a basic human need and can’t be quantified or measured, but it is as important to us as food and water.
Our ministry is really simplistic. We learn a few songs, say a basic prayer, give a short message, and pray a couple of times. That isn’t even the part that is the most important, although our seniors love our formula. The most important part comes in holding hands and looking deep into the eyes and acknowledging that you understand what they are unable to express. In that simple moment, an exchange of humanity happens. We look at eyes, but see a soul. That seeing, that acknowledgement is where hope lives.
Imagine living in a place where you are ignored or not understood. People assume that you don’t think because you can’t communicate, but imagine that once a month a group of people come along and they look down into your eyes and they notice you. They notice that you are in there still thinking, still understanding in whatever capacity that you are able. They notice it and in noticing, they are giving you hope that it could happen again. Suddenly, those fifteen minutes become so much more important than the icecream social that you enjoyed the day before. Love doesn’t come by shoving a cup of ice cream into someone’s hands. It comes from the spirit.
Our ministry isn’t anything special other than that we are there and that we notice. In noticing, we are more aware of what’s going on inside the eyes of those we greet. Anyone can do the music, the prayer, and the message, but not everyone notices. Not everyone makes that exchange that gives hope to those who thought they were invisible. We humans need each other. We need to be needed and noticed.
If you haven’t noticed anyone in a long time, then you have been asleep. You have allowed unimportant trivial matters to rob you of one of life’s greatest secrets. You have the hope that others need, but you have to take notice first. You have to look into the eyes, see the soul, and make the exchange. No one can do it for you, and if you aren’t doing it, you are missing out on one of life’s beautiful and unique mysteries.
Our group made that exchange with Francis, and now I have a beautiful memory of Francis clutching her bible with that glorious understanding spread gloriously across her face. It’s way better than ice cream.
March 22nd, 2010 · 3 Comments
Categories: DE Thoughts