Walking Our Faith: This is how we become God’s miracles on Earth (column)
Adeline Marie and I lived together for twenty years after my father passed. We taught overseas and traveled the world, from a safari in the Masai Mara to a cruise on the Seine to seeing the pyramids in Egypt.
After she had a massive heart attack while we were living in Baku, Azerbaijan, we returned to the States and eventually bought a house in Evergreen, Colorado.
We lived there for five years, happily I thought, until one evening at the age of 88 Mom, aka Adeline Marie, came into the kitchen where I was making dinner and announced that she planned to move back to her condo in Fort Lauderdale, Florida to fulfill one last dream, that of living independently. Something she’d dreamed of her entire life, but had never experienced as she moved from her mother’s home to her husband’s, to mine.
We were both skeptical at how this exercise in independence would work for someone of her age and inexperience in living solo.
Ironically, and perhaps not surprisingly given my numerous anxieties, her move was harder on me than on her.
Adeline Marie has flourished.
As she nears her 90th birthday, she has created a community. From the moment she opens her shutters in the morning (a signal to her friends and neighbors that she is awake) to the moment she closes them at sunset, (in time to watch “M*A*S*H” reruns) she entertains a cast of characters that would be found only on a sitcom.
They are a motley crew of loners and misfits who, prior to Mom’s arrival, rarely left their apartments or spoke to one another. But now they meet in Mom’s apartment for coffee and occasionally venture out for lunch or dinner in local restaurants. They go to the grocery store for one another, the post office, but their most valuable contribution is the care they give one another.
Mom distributes food, those with culinary talents cook and share with those who run errands. A peck of green peppers from Mom are transformed into sausage and stuffed peppers by Bob, and distributed to those who run errands. They celebrate birthdays and holidays together. Individually they are alone, families gone or far-flung. But here they create a community where each brings time and talent to support one another.
From the age of 8, Mom wanted to be a missionary. And in one capacity or another she has fulfilled that dream. But there is something especially sweet in the way she carries out her mission of living Jesus’ command that we love God and love our neighbors as we love ourselves.
And what of my relationship with Mom since she moved? We are closer than ever.
Our morning calls are brief, inevitably interrupted by a knock on her door, her called greeting to the newest arrival in the parade of characters who stop by each day, and a hasty goodbye to me.
Our evening phone calls after the final visitor has left, are long and thoughtful as she is no longer distracted.
During these calls I tell Mom about my day, my triumphs and disappointments. She is a stalwart pillar of strength, my constant encouragement.
When I’ve had a particularly frustrating day, I’ll ask her if she ever gets tired of propping me up. And she replies, “I am Aaron to your Moses.”
The example Adeline cites is a short and sweet passage from the Bible:
“Moses said to Joshua, ‘Choose some of our men and go out to fight the Amalekites. Tomorrow I will stand on top of the hill with the staff of God in my hands.’
“So Joshua fought the Amalekites as Moses had ordered, and Moses, Aaron and Hur went to the top of the hill. As long as Moses held up his hands, the Israelites were winning, but whenever he lowered his hands, the Amalekites were winning. When Moses’ hands grew tired, they took a stone and put it under him and he sat on it. Aaron and Hur held his hands up — one on one side, one on the other — so that his hands remained steady till sunset.” (Exodus 17:9-12)
This Bible passage will remind me of Mom’s remarkable love for the rest of my life.
As I walk to the library this morning, it occurs to me that it’s also a fine example of how God often works in the world.
I ask God for a miracle when my problems seem insurmountable and divine intervention the only viable solution.
Through Mom’s and Moses’ example, I discover God frequently employs other people to hold us up so we can complete our task. By doing so, God demonstrates our interdependence not only to him but to each other.
As we are helped in our weakness, someone else discovers their strength. As we step outside of ourselves to give to someone, we discover not only our generosity, but our abundance.
In our community, both within our intimate circle of friends and the wider Summit County, we are called each day to be both Moses and Aaron for one another.
When we open our hearts and minds to God’s guidance, we discover new opportunities to give of ourselves, to ask for help, to love and be loved.
As we accept this daily gift, we become missionaries in the fields of the Lord and the love we sow returns to us and those we help in a harvest of love, charity and hope.
This is how we flourish. This is how we becomes God’s miracles on Earth.
Suzanne Anderson is the author of “Love in a Time of War” and other books. You can reach her at Suzanne@suzanneelizabeths.com or facebook.com/suzanneelizabeths
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