I arrived at the nursing home early today and sat down at a table with Lewis, a young man of 74. I’ve known him for six years and he is a very amiable Christian man, currently attending the Catholic Church, which he began about 3 years ago. He has been a Christian his entire life and I’m not sure why he departed from his life-long protestant denomination. He has told me he loves the sacred presentation and feels comfortable there. That satisfied me and I’ve never questioned further. While we were talking the activities director rolled up a woman I hadn’t met named Peggy. She is 82, but with skin of someone much younger. At first I thought she was suffering with dementia because she seemed to ramble but when I asked her questions about her past she was pleased to tell us many things in complete lucidity. Some minutes later Joyce rolled up, a sweet Christian woman I have known for about a year. In conversation with the four of us Joyce revealed she had been married 65 years. I was shocked, I judged she was in her seventies but she was actually a very young eighty five year old.
The four of us talked for 15 minutes or so and the activities director rolled up another woman to our table. Now this woman appeared very young, my guess was in her thirties. It turned out she is roommates with Peggy. She was very attractive and had stunning eyes. She had lost all of her teeth, which was betrayed by her continual smiling and sweet, though labored conversation.
I learned later she has M.S. but she still has mobility in her upper body, though with the loss of all grace.
I was immediately drawn to her display of courage, openness and cheerfulness. It is always moving to see someone so young with such a great affliction. She is a beautiful young lady of 35 from Ukraine named Svetlana. She attended the Pentecostal church and was eager for church to begin. Compassion began to gush and I held her hands, which she was greedy to reciprocate. It is a common thing for the lonely to be starved for human touch. It’s a wonderful thing that so much can be communicated through the simple touching of hands. We began the service and I was taken with so much emotion towards Svetlana I had to fight back tears. I wanted to just cradle her and tell her how much Jesus loves her but as she sang with such rapture I could see she was deep in one of Christ’s sweet embraces.
When the service was over Peggy asked if I would push her back to her room and just at that time the activities director came and offered to push her. I asked Svetlana if she would like a push as well and she said yes. I was happy to get to spend a few more minutes with her just to spill over her some of the love Christ was giving me for her. We arrived at their room and we backed them in side by side and I said a few parting words and reached for Svetlana’s hands to squeeze them goodbye; when I did she drew me to her in a hug and labored clumsily to kiss my cheek. I knew at that moment that she sensed the love of God outpouring in me and had hoped in some way to share. God made it happen.