There were also heaping portions of appreciation offered along with generous side dishes of gratitude. For dessert we were treated to an example of humility, served up in rare manner. It was better than any carrot cake I have ever tasted. (And I love a good carrot cake.)
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The event was the closing luncheon for our spring Bible study series and three long-time participants were being honored as they retired from their roles as leaders and teachers after many years of service.
As the last honoree was called to the platform, she carefully disconnected her oxygen tubes from the small portable tank she began carrying recently. Her steps were a little slower than they used to be, but her smile was bright.
She was, however, clearly embarrassed not by her tank and tubes, but by the fuss being made over her. E. is feisty, we all know that. She does not suffer fools gladly and can zap the unsuspecting with a quick zinger if they are being fatuous.
Thus M., who leads women's ministries at our church, said with a smile, "I know she can take me out, but I hope she will allow me to do this small thing in appreciation for all she has given to us over these past many years." And with that, M. gently washed E.'s feet in front of a large group of women from all walks of life, many of whom had never before witnessed such a thing. Not many churches practice this demonstration of servanthood any longer, although Jesus gave us a clear example of it.
I had a lump in my throat the size of a grapefruit as I fought back tears. I was not alone.
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There are so many ways to be grateful, so many opportunities to express our gratitude. And we need not wait for the grand finale, the spectacular opportunity. Some small gesture may afford the chance to bless someone else, and at the same time demonstrate our own thankfulness.
I enjoy food. I am my mother's daughter and mom had a favorite coffee mug with a slogan on it which stated, "I never met a carbohydrate I didn't like."
And there you have it.
At this luncheon, I asked a table mate with limited mobility if I could bring her a plate? She smiled and said "Sure. Thanks." She said anything would do, she had no special preferences.
Later as we visited, she explained that the stroke which now limited her physical mobility, and had wiped out her short term memory, had also taken her sense of taste. This former school-teacher told me this with no hint of self-pity. She ate only because she needed to; but there was no longer any flavor in it.
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I was reminded of the verse in Psalms 34:8, "Taste and see that the Lord is good."
Life is full of bittersweet ironies.
This morning I received an email from her thanking me for bringing her food to her. Food she could not taste. Nevertheless, she chose to find something for which to be thankful.
I looked up the definition of gratitude this morning. It was one word - thankfulness. Just that. Nothing else. Simple, but not easy.
I was once again reminded of the author Jennifer Rothschild, who is blind, who uses three simple principles to define her approach to life:
- God is good.
- Life is hard.
- It can be well with your soul, even when it is not with your circumstances.
Some of us have feet that still work, but we do not walk to our neighbor's door.
And some ... choose to be thankful. Despite tests and trials, undeterred by failure or misfortune, they still choose to be thankful. And gratitude is a choice.
We can look gratefully to the One to whom we owe it all; that is, to choose a steadfast thankfulness that does not waver with our circumstances. It is not easy. But it is right and it is good.
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Hope your day is a treat and someone remembers to thank you for something. Until next time, your grateful gardener, Marsha