4th March, 2018
Sometimes, God arranges for us to slam head-first into our most deep-seated prejudices. He often does that in ways that are so creative and effective, showing us something that has been right in front of us for so long in a new light.
While moving into my new library, I re-discovered this entry in one of my old diaries…
Visiting my mother-in-law in her rest home today, I found her unwell and distressed. It affected me in a way that I did not expect and I later left upset and uneasy too.
Her rest home is a labyrinth of narrow corridors. More than once in the past, I had wandered around confused trying to find the front door. I was the boy they never trusted with the compass on Boy Scout tramps, for reasons that quickly became obvious to my pack leader.
Half way along a corridor I stopped because a resident was blocking my way. He put a hand on each of my shoulders and looked at me face-on: “If you are trying to get out, the code is 412E” he said, wide-eyed behind his glasses.
“Great…” I thought to myself. “My mother-in-law now lives in a loony bin and I am bailed-up in this corridor with a madman who wants to help me escape. Typical…”
“You’re lost…” he continued. “I’m Peter. I didn’t get enough oxygen when I was born so I live here now.”
“Hello Peter” I replied.
“I only have one job in this world” he explained.
“What is that Peter?”
“To tell everyone that Jesus loves them. That’s all I do. Do you know that Jesus loves you?”
“Yes I do Peter” I whispered. “But to be honest with you, today it kind of feels like I had forgotten that.”
He took me by the hand and led me through the corridors without saying anything more. When we got to the front gate, the code 412E worked just like he said it would and he waved as I walked away.
Over the last few months of my mother-in-laws life, I got to know Peter better. His mother had looked after him all his life and when she became too frail, they had both moved into the same rest home. The manager shared with me that Peter was probably his greatest asset around the place. He was the one who would just sit alongside residents whenever he sensed they needed company, listening to them as a comforter.
I often found him beside the front door of the rest home, greeting people as they arrived or left. More than once, I heard his signature phrase: “Do you know Jesus loves you?”. This was not the cry of a madman; it was the calling of a person who had found and understood their purpose in life, and then begun to live it out day-by-day.
Chair photograph (c) Tom Deacon from http://www.voshart.com