My recent reading of The First Phone Call from Heaven, by author Mitch Albom, where a character asks what is false about hope prompts this question. I don’t believe there is such a thing as false hope but instead the unreliability of the subject we place our expectations.
Tucked away somewhere in our family home is a black and white sketch that frequents my subconscious. An elderly disheveled looking man with weathered face and hands contentedly draws the bow across the violin strings. My thoughts are not taken to where he might be standing or for whom he is playing, but the look of joy on his face as the voices of cords and wood filter into the air. That expression brings to mind a quote by Sarah Young from her devotional book, Jesus Calling,
When you let others’ expectations drive you, you scatter your energy to the winds.
This aged gentleman is not concerned about others’ enjoyment of his performance, but the pure pleasure of producing a joyful sound.
I must find this sketch for my office wall as a reminder that joy is found within oneself not from outside circumstances.
Neglecting the practice of giving thanks has darkened their minds.
~ Sarah Young, Jesus Calling
This I know is true; focusing on the negative is blinding. Following the February death of our parents, I found myself in a blue funk, a gloomy place with little interest in what normally brought pleasure. Yet today, as soft fluffy clouds float across a baby blue sky, nearly naked trees stretch their arms heavenward, and the smell of Mom’s stuffing tickles the nose, I find myself excited with anticipation for the day’s traditions and the making of memories with family and friends.
Driving past the family home as gloomy grayish blue clouds dim the brilliance of the autumn leaves, I noticed a piece of garbage in one of the flowerbeds. Making a mental note to stop on my way from work to pick up the unsightly litter, a whispering voice floated through my brain.
What are you doing about the messy state you allowed yourself to be in the last few months? What are you doing about the scattered indifference to the enjoyed interests that once reminded you of Me? I know you are grieving. However, you allow circumstances around you to dictate how you feel and respond. Wake up! Change your focus. I Am still here. Clear the debris and enjoy Me.
With the popularity of social media and the lack of teaching the social graces, sending greeting cards through the postal service may become a lost art. Do not jump to any conclusions. I appreciate greetings sent electronically just as much. However, there is a different aspect to receiving a folded sheet of card stock with a pretty graphic and printed sentiment. It is a physical expression of one’s love and care. So, today, this first birthday without a card from Mom and Dad, I will reminisce over my collection of cards received over the years and frequently read Isaiah 43:1-3; tangible reminders I am valuable and not forgotten.
Despite the ugliness of Alzheimer’s with its thievery, the soul of the person remains. Thankfully, God does not forget and knows we need those brief reminders, those moments of clarity that give us a snippet of respite from an otherwise devastating thief. (Isaiah 42:16, Isaiah 43:1-3)