I learned so much in that half an hour.
Her health doesn’t allow her to venture much further than the nursing home across the street to visit the man who shared 56 years of her life. Every day she sits by this man who doesn’t even know who she is. She tells us over and over again that he isn’t her Billie any more. While there, she reaches out to the others in need. The nurses who bustle through the facility with pain in their eyes, she sees them. She prays for them and tells them about God. A God who has the man she adores trapped in a mind she doesn’t recognize. Every night when she returns, she cries, and gets a little angry, and then begs the Lord to take her husband home.
Sitting on her coffee table is her husband's Bible.Small notes from children are tucked between its yellow pages, just as he left it. Its binding is cracked from age and use and its Words are more dear to this woman than the dusty knick-knacks and photo frames surrounding it.
This saint kneels on hobbled 82 year-old knees by her couch in the lamp light on Sundays. The pastor’s voice wavers over the radio as she prays for the world. She prays for a world who doesn’t care and a generation that has turned their back on this sweet warrior of the faith.
She smiles at me, pressing her stub of a hand to her cheek, and she calls me child. “Child,” she says, “You know, God never gives us more than we can bear. Oh, there’s tears…and sorrow. But it always ends up okay and right in the end.” There’s no arguing with a woman who has experienced so much and has touched the hand and heart of God. There’s nothing to be said other than a whispered amen.
“Ms. Alice, can we sing with you? Do you have a favorite?”
Her lips press together and her eyes are bright with life as she replies, “You know an old one? Leave it there? Because when you lay all those burdens at His feet, you know, you aren’t supposed to pick them back up again.”
So we sing and give her a hug and leave her little house and I mostly just want to cry. Because in that half an hour, I feel like maybe I’ve been in the presence of the love of God. The strong, silent sort of love that just keeps on loving despite the fact that it has been chosen to thrive alone, that was her. I pray for her strength and her passion in serving the Saviour to be cultivated in my own childish heart.
God bless you, sweet Alice, for you have taught me much and you are so precious in His sight!
Note: I wrote this post two years ago and just recently dear Alice has slipped on from this world in to the next and in to the presence of the Lord. We know she is now rejoicing in Heaven with her Saviour!