Being Kind to a Centenarian (#BestOf)

(the Best of) A Year of Being Kind, Friday, August 14, 2015

Looking back, a year ago today, I wanted to remember a dear friend. The centenarian I mentioned, in this post. He died last fall, one hundred years young. I know for sure he is very much missed. There is a Jewish traditional service where the worshipers ask Ha Shem (G-d) to remember those for whom we mourn and grant them rest. Many remember their beloved ones who have died. In this way, I remember my dear friend. (Personally, I think he’s helping people, being kind to those in heaven, right now. Just like he did while here on earth.)

A Year of Being Kind blog – Thursday, August 14, 2014

only kindness matters

Being Kind to a Centenarian

Imagine being one hundred years old. Wow. That’s almost twice as old as I am, right now.

I talked with Chuck, a good friend of mine, on the phone recently. We discussed a great many things. And then, he mentioned a dear senior, an aged man we both know and love. “Can you imagine? He turned one hundred a few days ago. A number of us went to see him and had a birthday party for him.”

I know and am familiar with the care center where the senior is now living. I can just imagine the birthday party. The circle of aged and elderly residents, all around the table. The guests, gathered by the birthday person’s side. There are often some employees attending the party, too. Certain residents inspire a great deal of affection, on the part of residents as well as the workers in the care center. I’m sure this centenarian had a number of employees at his party. (He has lived there for a number of years. He’s been a much beloved person to those all over the center.)

Singing “Happy Birthday to You”—I can just hear it. The cake. The balloons. But our dear, elderly friend is not as aware as he once was. So bittersweet, having a celebration for someone who wasn’t sure exactly who was at the birthday party. My friend Chuck thought this dear man understood that it was his birthday, though.

I’ve known this gentle, humorous senior for twenty years. Faithful, friendly, loving and kind. He was truly an example of being kind. Being of service. So helpful, going out of his way to do things for those who were shy of asking for help. Even crossing the street to say hello and find out how people truly were.

I hope and pray that all of us are aided to remember this wonderful, courageous, helpful man who did so much for so many. Without reward, without fanfare, without the benefit of tweets on Twitter, photos on Instagram, or posts on Facebook.

Dear God, bless my dear, senior friend. The centenarian.

@chaplaineliza

Like what you read? Disagree? Share your thoughts with your loved ones and continue the conversation.

(Suggestion: visit me at my daily blog for 2015: matterofprayer: A Year of Everyday Prayers.   @chaplaineliza And read my sermons from Pastor, Preacher Pray-er – Thanks!)

Being Kind to a Centenarian

A Year of Being Kind blog – Thursday, August 14, 2014

BK only kindness matteres

Being Kind to a Centenarian

Imagine being one hundred years old. Wow. That’s almost twice as old as I am, right now.

I talked with Chuck, a good friend of mine, on the phone recently. We discussed a great many things. And then, he mentioned a dear senior, an aged man we both know and love. “Can you imagine? He turned one hundred a few days ago. A number of us went to see him and had a birthday party for him.”

I know and am familiar with the care center where the senior is now living. I can just imagine the birthday party. The circle of aged and elderly residents, all around the table. The guests, gathered by the birthday person’s side. There are often some employees attending the party, too. Certain residents inspire a great deal of affection, on the part of residents as well as the workers in the care center. I’m sure this centenarian had a number of employees at his party. (He has lived there for a number of years. He’s been a much beloved person to those all over the center.)

Singing “Happy Birthday to You”—I can just hear it. The cake. The balloons. But our dear, elderly friend is not as aware as he once was. So bittersweet, having a celebration for someone who wasn’t sure exactly who was at the birthday party. My friend Chuck thought this dear man understood that it was his birthday, though.

I’ve known this gentle, humorous senior for twenty years. Faithful, friendly, loving and kind. He was truly an example of being kind. Being of service. So helpful, going out of his way to do things for those who were shy of asking for help. Even crossing the street to say hello and find out how people truly were.

I hope and pray that all of us are aided to remember this wonderful, courageous, helpful man who did so much for so many. Without reward, without fanfare, without the benefit of tweets on Twitter, photos on Instagram, or posts on Facebook. Dear God, bless my dear, senior friend. The centenarian.

@chaplaineliza

Like what you read? Disagree? Share your thoughts with your loved ones and continue the conversation.

Opportunity for Kindness? Listen!

A Year of Being Kind blog – Saturday, June 28, 2014

free to be happy

Opportunity for Kindness? Listen!

I know I’ve spoken about my active listening skills in this space, previously. I’ve even joked a bit about being a “professional listener.” That’s what sometimes happens when a person is in my profession. First, as a chaplain. Now, as a pastor. (My therapist and I have talked about it, at length, and it’s happened often to us both. We’ve talked about it, several times. As have a chaplain friend and I.)

People don’t even need to know what I do for a living. They simply come up to me and start talking. It’s true! I am not even joking.

Today was a great example. I volunteered to take a good friend to the airport, early in the morning. On the way back, I decided to go straight to the YMCA. After a thorough workout, I was leisurely getting dressed in the locker room. Sure enough, a woman—a little younger than I was—started to talking to me, almost non-stop. Lovely woman, wearing such a pretty blouse. I had never met her before, and she and I had not even exchanged names. Yet—this woman soon was telling me some intimate details of her life and the lives of several of her loved ones. And—it didn’t stop there.

Two more people just came up to me later in the morning, and started pouring out their lives to me, too. I handled this with some aplomb, as well as personal kindness and interest. Yes, people do periodically come up to me, and tell me lots of things. And—this is the important part—the three people today? I do not believe anyone had let them know about my profession before these chance meetings. And all three of these new people? I hope that I helped them.

I didn’t even need to open my mouth: that’s how ready to share these three individuals were. And me? I realized that a priinted conversation was also a way to display the verse for June, too: “In the same way, let your light shine before others, that they may see your good deeds and glorify your Father in heaven.” (Matthew 5:16 )

Again, I didn’t do a thing. God, thanks for making each of us in such a unique way. Yet, You provide for each of us to have that safety valve, that way of talking to God (vertically) and to other human beings (horizontally). And especially, thank God for giving us Yourself, offering Yourself in such a selfless, loving way. Such an example for everyone!

Thanks again, God. Appreciate it.

@chaplaineliza

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Being Kind, and More Adventures in Dentistry

A Year of Being Kind blog – Tuesday, June 17, 2014

BK show more kindness than necessary

Being Kind, and More Adventures in Dentistry

There I was, having a snack on Sunday afternoon. Suddenly—I felt something hard in my mouth. And part of my molar was gone. Cracked. I felt the jagged edge with my tongue and took in a deep breath. Breathed out the sigh of frustration. I needed this like I needed another hole in my head. (Upon reflection, I suppose that’s pretty much what it is. Another hole, I mean.)

The dentist’s assistant and I talked yesterday, and I found out that I could have the first appointment on Wednesday morning. Thank goodness I have a responsive dentist! He was gone over the weekend, but will be back tomorrow. So, bright and early, I have the first appointment in his office. And, I am—almost—filled with trepidation to find out what are the next steps he suggests for this lower molar.

Today was rather challenging for me. Not too much, since I don’t want people to think my cracked tooth is causing a great, big hole in my mouth. But, it is rubbing a little sore in my tongue. Irritating, and bothersome. So much so, that I am speaking as if I had a slight speech impediment now. Since about the middle of the morning.

I reflected on my practice of being kind, as I sat in the office today. As I thought, I found I was concentrating so much on being kind to others. I don’t often sit back and allow others to be kind to me. Not to get all introspective or anything, but taking care of myself is important, too! The dentist’s assistant was very kind and understanding as she put me down for a special visit tomorrow—the earliest of the day, too.

This train of thought led me on. What other things am I neglecting in my life? How can others be helpful to me? And, how else could I be kind to myself?

I know, from my years of working as a chaplain, how valuable being kind to myself could be. Except, I call it “self-care.” I know that this practice is getting a lot of press now, especially since those in the helping professions are increasingly finding regular self-care to be a necessity.

Now that I’m talking about it, I can see how Jesus practiced self-care in His life, during His ministry. He would withdraw on a regular basis. Go away by Himself and be alone. Pray. I suspect He was resting and recharging His batteries (metaphorically speaking, of course—especially since batteries were not invented until 1800).

I ought to follow His excellent example and take time for myself. Be kind to myself. Follow good practices of self-care. Good idea, O Lord! Thanks.

@chaplaineliza

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Little by Little

A Year of Being Kind blog – Sunday, April 13, 2014

BK be kind whenever possible

Little by Little

Day Seven of the bathroom facelift: in the home stretch! My contractor is coming back tomorrow to put the vanity in place and touch up the fresh paint he put on today. That’s just about all there is left. The brand new tile is beautiful! White, with a gray-ish glass mosaic trimming around the top. I keep pinching myself, because of the old tile—gosh darn it, more than that! The whole bathroom was scuffed up, old and tired.

However, Phase Two is going to take place on Tuesday. New carpet! (and such a deal, too!) My husband is a book lover. I am a book lover. When we put a lot of our books in one room and turn off the lights, I could swear there is some funny business going on. It seems as if they are mating, since they seem to duplicate. Double, sometimes even triple in number. I mention the books because it was a condition of the carpet guys putting in the carpet. Yes, my husband and I are almost done boxing up all the books and bringing them downstairs.

This was a process. A long, drawn-out process. But little by little, we are getting it done. It’s amazing how , incrementally, things can add up. It’s amazing how the piles of boxes gradually grow in the basement, too. As I’ve been watching the contractor work for these past few days, I have noticed the same thing with him and his work, too. A few set-backs, a couple of difficulties and problems, but nothing that made the contractor throw up his hands in frustration. (I could just imagine!) But thankfully, work is almost done.

As for me, I tried to be helpful and patient every place I went today—church, home, stores. I took the cue from these excellent examples. So, I tried my darnedest to be kind. Be helpful. Be of service. Final confirmation with the carpet salesman. He and I had a great conversation confirming the correct carpet swatch and the photo.

I tried to help out the contractor, too. Verifying the paint color, getting various things—as long as I was going to be stopping by the do-it-yourself hardware store. And truthfully, all the people I encountered were really, really kind.

God, I hope You show me the best way to let people know that I am interested in them, that I care about them and their families. At church, in the garden, and especially when I am out and about. God willing, I’ll keep trying to make a way where there is no way. I hope and pray that You lead me to people who could use, even need my touch.

Taxi Service

A Year of Being Kind blog – Thursday, January 16, 2014

autumn road

autumn road

Taxi Service

The act of service I focused on today involved driving someone somewhere. More of an errand, and it wasn’t as if the person I drove couldn’t have taken public transportation. Nevertheless, I drove my youngest daughter to and from the community college, where she’ll start spring semester next week.

Have I mentioned that I used to drive commercially for a living? (At least, part-time. That wasn’t enough to live on, but it certainly helped cash flow in the family.) Thinking about the title of this blog post, that’s where the “taxi” part of my act of serving comes from. And “service?” A bit of a pun, but I wanted to write and think more in depth about serving. About taking the opportunity to be available for people.

To begin, I went to Richard Foster’s tremendous guide on the spiritual disciplines and Christian spirituality, Celebration of Discipline. His brief chapter on service is full of pithy quotes and penetrating insights into the place of service, and differing ways to serve in the world.

Sure, I could have gotten all ‘intellectual,’ and become fascinated by the words of various saints and their different takes on service, and the way Richard Foster incorporated them into the chapter. But that’s not the point. My point is to find out what Foster says about serving through transportation. He did talk about it, and gave this example that caused me to think hard about my whole activity of service, 365 days of service.

He spoke of the time he was in the “frantic final throes” of writing his doctoral dissertation. A friend called. The friend’s wife had taken their car, but the man needed to run several errands. He asked Foster whether he might have a ride to do the errands. Foster begrudgingly took the man around. Before leaving, he grabbed Dietrich Bonhoeffer’s Life Together, just in case he might have a little time between errands. I’ll let Foster continue. “Through each errand I inwardly fretted and fumed at the loss of precious time. Finally, at a supermarket, the final stop, I waved my friend on, saying I would wait in the car. I picked up my book, opened it to the marker, and read these words: ‘The second service that one should perform for another in a Christian community is that of active helpfulness. This means, initially, simple assistance in trifling, external matters. There is a multitude of these things wherever people live together. Nobody is too good for the meanest service.’”

Through the power of narrative and example, Richard Foster gave us a marvelous definition and description of taxi service. Bonhoeffer’s words can also be construed to mean general acts of service as well, not just those of transportation. (Though taxi service was what Foster had been doing, at this specific time.) God, I am convicted both by Foster’s example as well as by Bonhoeffer’s words of advice and admonishment. I give thanks for the acts of service I find each day. Please, God, help me, show me some service to do tomorrow.

@chaplaineliza