As I am writing to you today, I am sitting in a hospital room with my Mother in Law, though I prefer to call my “Mother in Love”, Barb. She has been an important woman in my life for 35 years now, and also to HealingStrong. She serves as an editor on our HealingStrong HEAL Team and has been a cheerleader and supporter in all manners since the very beginning.
She is 85 years old and truly one of the healthiest people I know, until this year when she began to experience heart and other health issues. It’s been an unfortunate year of doctor’s appointments and unwelcomed hospitalizations. She, however, makes the most of each visit.
What I wanted to share with you is how she is practicing God’s presence in the midst of this time of suffering. Don’t get me wrong…she is tired of being sick and tired, but she is being intentional to make the most of it. Every person that walks through the doors of her hospital room are greeted with the biggest smile (if she is awake), and a kind word, with an utterance of “how is your day going?”…. She knows all of their names, practicing repeating their names when they are not around, and takes time to share her gratitude with each one.
Yesterday, one of her nurses was ending her shift and she darted into Barb’s room and said to her: Do you mind if I pray for you? She, like so many others who have developed a sweet relationship with Barb didn’t want to leave without saying goodbye. When she left, Barb said….”if I don’t see you before, I’ll see you in Heaven”.
Barb doesn’t say that in a morbid kind of way, expecting her death, but she celebrates the very eternal significance of her new found friends. She also takes each encounter here very serious making sure that each person feels seen, loved, and appreciated.
The rest of us sitting on the sidelines are just soaking this in, sometimes with a chuckle as she tells another nurse or aide just how much she appreciates them and the care they are offering. It’s really special.
I’m reading a book this week: The Practice of the Presence of God by Brother Lawrence, who spent the final 30 years of his life in the kitchen of a monastery. He was born in 1611, and this book captures his conversations and letters that he wrote for the ordinary. It chronicles a simple life with an extraordinary message. I found myself thinking about this season of life that Barb and our family are experiencing. You see, Barb is a scholar, having graduated with her PhD in Biblical Studies (when she was 70 years old). She has authored books, and taught many classes to young and old. She was a counselor to counselors for decades. But, her greatest gift to humanity, in my mind, is how she has always been intentional to find an opportunity to speak life over others. I have experienced it first hand, and as I type this, the nurse who is helping her with a clogged feeding tube, is also being blessed by her intentional focus on gratitude.
What a gift gratitude is….it changes the outcome in any circumstance and spreads joy to all of those who experience it. It is a freedom bell that rings loudly in our hearts.
May you experience a heart of gratitude, and may we all practice the presence of God in all circumstances.
So much love,
“That we ought not to be weary of doing little things for the love of God, who regards not the greatness of the work, but the love with which it is performed.”― Brother Lawrence, The Practice of the Presence of God