Wow…it’s been a while since I have written! I’ve got a pretty good excuse. For much of the month of March I was not well. Not until I had been suffering for a bunch of weeks, did we discover through a CT scan that I had a large kidney stone lodged in my body that wasn’t budging. I was sick and in screaming pain, spent time in the ER and eventually had surgery along with follow-up complications. I’m much better now but…wow.
Anyway, how are you?
Recently I read a story that moved me to tears and still does every time I retell it. It made me wonder what our world and community would be like if we would follow the example of this dear man. The story comes from the book The Rebirthing of God by John Philip Newell. (For those of you on a spiritual journey, I highly recommend it.) In the book, Newell tells this story of his father during the last months of his life as dementia was taking its toll. Here is the excerpt from Newell’s book.
During my last visit to Canada before my father entered a nursing home, my sister asked if I would help sell the family car, which my father was still trying to drive, illegally. I called the local car salesman and set up an appointment for the next day. I made a point of saying to him, “When you meet my father tomorrow you will notice that he seems confused about all sorts of things. But please honor him by speaking to him, not me. This is his car. And I’ll be there with him.”
The young salesman totally got the point. There was playful banter and repartee. My father never lost his sense of humor. There were, of course, absurd moments in the conversation, as there always are when you’re dealing with dementia. My father tried to say to him, “Now how much money do I owe you for this car?” The salesman replied, “No, no, Dr. Newell. We want to give you money for this car.” To which my father said, looking at me, “This is very generous of them!”
At the end of the transaction, as the check was being handed over to my father, I said to the young salesman, “Whenever I part from my father or whenever we finish a telephone conversation, he gives me a blessing. And I think he would like to bless you now.” So, there we were, standing in the middle of a car showroom. My father took the salesman’s hand, looked straight into his eyes, and said, “The Lord bless you and keep you. The Lord make his face to shine upon you and be gracious to you. The Lord lift up his countenance upon you and give you peace.”
I stood gazing at my father, thinking, if only I could be such a bearer of blessing in the world. And then I looked at the young car salesman. Tears were streaming down his face. He will never forget that moment. Never.
I so resonate with Newell. If only I could be such a bearer of blessing in the world!
More broadly, this story made me wonder what other practices or postures we could adopt that would change the narrative of narcissism and hate that seemingly dominates American culture. This I will explore over the next few weeks in these posts.
In the meantime…
“The Lord bless you and keep you.
The Lord make his face to shine upon you and be gracious to you.
The Lord lift up his countenance upon you and give you peace.”