They limped down over the hill to come for a visit. Hand in hand they approached. We welcomed. Hugs given. Uttered, "Won't you come in and sit down?" For it was by their generosity that we were even in that place.
For most of my life I had looked up to these people, sometimes feared them and on occasion even disliked them. They had always been full of life and vitality. They were the ones that seemed to be able to do anything and everything.
She, a special lady, gifted in so many ways, but who had known suffering. She sang in church and endeavored to teach the rest of us to do so too. No meal could be complete without her touch. They both would serve tirelessly. Gardening, hunting, crafting, entertaining.....all things that this woman excelled at. Perhaps that is why so many felt threatened by her. Our own egos stepped on by one who could do more than we.
Her husband, a carpenter, volunteered many hours to help build what needed building. She worked at his side as his most indispensable tool. For as long as I have known them they have given---given to the church, given to the community, given to charities, given to the Lord......given to me.
She struggles today for a word to describe the weather or to say hello and good-bye. Her eyes shine with the frustration of so many losses. Her loss of independence, loss of communication, loss of health, loss of loved ones. Yet, not once does she complain. She smiles and looks to him for the words she cannot use. Nods as he reads her thoughts and shares them with us.
These who have so impacted me and others, suffer with the increasing effects of age. Behind a stammered hello I can see the years, the stories. A book could be written, no doubt, to pay homage to another who has changed the world around her. Most likely, that will not happen. They have, however, left their marks on the hearts of those whom they have touched over many years.
May we not forget that behind each shut-in's window or in rooms of nursing homes or hospitals, there are tremendous stories of life that we would do well to hear. The silver hair that stands behind us in the grocery line is a person with a story. May we value them. May we share the Lord with them. They will not come to us. We must go looking. Looking for the gold ones who have gone before us. Some may be able to share stories and others may have lost that ability, but they need to know that they are not forgotten.
They have been through the paths that we have yet to tread. The fires have done their work, and they have come out as gold. Treasure the gold. It will not last forever. Tomorrow may be too late to glean one more bit of wisdom---one more gem. Mine it today while they are here with us. Let us learn from these so that we may one day be able to be that to another.
"But he knoweth the way that I take: when he hath tried me, I shall come forth as gold." Job 23:10
"Favour is deceitful, and beauty is vain: but a woman that feareth the LORD, she shall be praised." Prov. 31:30
"Withhold not good from them to whom it is due, when it is in the power of thine hand to do it." Prov. 3:27
"The fining pot is for silver, and fhe furnace for gold: but the LORD trieth the hearts." Prov. 17:3