While waiting for my coffee pot to signal that the fuel for all this busyness was ready, I took a gander out my front window. Keith and I have a large, beautiful maple tree in our front yard that is surrounded by a circular, built up, brick edging. There, on the edging, under that tree and sitting with her back to me, was one of my neighbors.
I looked at her for a moment and then I heard a voice clearly say, “Go out and greet her.”
I hesitated because after all this was a busy day and my day timer was packed. Did I have time to chat with a neighbor? I presented that question to the voice.
The response was, “Would you like to compare your day timer to mine, little one?” Ah, I knew who was talking now.
I went out, trying to figure out how I was going to work one more thing into my day, and she looked up at me. She seemed to be flushed, so I asked her if she would like a drink of water. She just nodded her head and thanked me.
I brought her a glass of water and then sat down next to her. The brick edging was wet because the sprinkler had been on earlier this morning, and it was not exactly comfortable. Ignoring my now wet britches, I asked her how she was doing.
“It has been a bad summer, Laura,” she told me. Mentally, I saw my day timer’s entries begin to diminish in importance.
She went on to explain that she had lost several of her family members this summer, including her only son. She was in deep grief. Her tears began to fall as she told me the details. Then my tears began to fall. It was the broken heart of one mother pouring out her grief to another mother in an attempt to lessen the pain.
I have stood with several mothers who have buried their children. Through these times I have learned one very important lesson: I cannot make it better so I do not try by giving advice or smooth clichés. The best thing I can do is stand in the pain with her and give her my ears, my hand and my silence as she unpacks yet another layer of grief.
During our time together, clouds moved above us and then moved on. One cloud, however, stayed directly overhead, releasing tiny raindrops that fell through the leaves of the giant, sheltering tree and onto us. I realized that God too was crying, crying for the pain of His children. Death is part of life. As humans, we do not know when it will come or, in some cases, why. And it hurts, especially for the loved ones who are left. God knows the whys and whens but I believe, like all parents, He hurts when His children hurt.
I do not know how long we talked about her loss, but I do know that her decision to stop and rest under my tree was not an interruption of my itinerary for the day. It was my itinerary for the day. I was given opportunity to return to the most important thing in this life – caring about and for others.
She finished her water and said she had to go home. We hugged and she started walking up the street, still wiping the tears from her eyes. When I came into the house, I read my devotional and began to pray. The devotional lesson today was about trusting God and giving everything we have to Him and, in faith, to offer ourselves in service to Him and to others.
During my prayer time, I heard Him say, “Write this experience down and share it today.”
So I did. The funny thing is, I can’t even find that list of all those things I had on this day’s to- do list. I believe I did what He asked me to do. And that beloveds, is all we ever really need to complete in our so, so busy lives and schedules.
Laura L. Padgett
July 25, 2013