© Copyright 2006 by Kendra Cornell
Paul had awoken early, as was his habit, and taken a jog around his south Denver neighborhood as the sun rose. Several of his neighbors were already up walking their dogs and enjoying the early quiet of the day. The air was so fresh and cool early in the morning. Flowers glistened with dew like precious gemstones. The sidewalks were chipped and uneven, but he found it gave the neighborhood character and history. Children had written their names in the wet cement decades ago, and he often found himself wondering where those grown children were now, and if they remembered the day long ago when they made their little handprints on the new, smooth sidewalks.
Paul loved this neighborhood. The trees here were stately and tall- nothing like the saplings that dotted the new communities in the outlying suburbs of Denver. When trees grew tall, their limbs stretching to meet over the narrow streets, that was something that evidenced the longevity of the community. How many generations of families had lived and loved and lost behind those doors? Too many stories to count, thought Paul with a smile, but that’s no excuse not to try.
During these early morning jaunts, he liked to think and prepare himself for all of the day’s activities. Saturdays were usually his visiting days, provided he had his sermon ready for the next day, and he usually did. Paul loved visiting his congregation, and he found it difficult to be discontented with his life when the sun began to streak the sky with its brilliant blue. The pale, watery winter sun had given way to its solar kin- a relation that seemed determined to chase away the gray of the cold months with the radiance of color and light.
When Paul returned to his small, two-story brick home, he showered quickly and sat in his small study. The entire main floor had solid hard-wood floors that were aged with the patina of many years. Simple woven rugs that reminded him of the ones his mother had always used were scattered about. He had his grandfather’s roll-top desk, and on top of that was placed a fake fern that was unfortunate enough to belong to someone that thought dusting plants the highest nuisance. The room also contained a small, cushy overstuffed sofa-bed that lent the room a homey atmosphere.
This morning, Paul turned to Psalm 145. He read the words of praise and turned them into his prayer, “I will exalt you, my God and my King. Every day, I will praise you and extol your name forever and ever. Great is the Lord and most worthy of praise; his greatness no one can fathom. One generation will commend Your works to another; they will tell of Your mighty acts. They will speak of the glorious splendor of your majesty; and I will meditate on your wonderful works. ” Paul focused for a few minutes on the splendor of his God and King.
He was thankful this morning to be lifted up by the Lord. There were mornings when he felt as though his face was in the proverbial dust, and those days presented the greatest struggle. Necessary struggles- issues he was ultimately thankful for, but real difficulties nonetheless.
Before moving on, Paul thought for a moment on the verse, “One generation will commend Your works to another.” It reminded him of one woman, Miss Rose. Paul grinned as he grabbed a muffin bar from the kitchen and left for the nursing home.
The facility was lovely. An atrium served as the entryway. Floor-to-ceiling glass panels introduced glorious rays of sunshine to the small trees, ferns, and flowers that surrounded the circular entrance. Many of the residents sorely missed their gardens, and the atrium was a small way to allow them to continue their normal activities. The nurses’ desk sat directly in front of the entry, and Paul greeted the nurses as he made his way to Miss Rose’s room.
He poked his head around the corner and smiled as he saw the small woman in the pink housedress sitting on her bed and looking out at the birdbath in the courtyard. Robins and sparrows wriggled as they jumped in and out of the water.
“Good morning, Miss Rose. How are you this morning?” The woman’s aged face broke into a smile full of joy.
“Well, good morning honey! I was just sitting here watching those silly birds,” she said gesturing out the window. “I used to have a cat that thought he was some kind of jungle tiger. He would hide under my lilac bushes and stalk those robins… Honey, he was either the dumbest cat that ever lived or the biggest ham. I think he enjoyed me watching him more than he ever did trying to catch those birds. How are you? Set yourself down there. I think I might have something to offer you,” she said as she rummaged through her night-table.
Paul settled himself in her visitor’s chair and accepted the mint that she offered. “Well, Miss Rose, I was just thinking of you this morning.”
“Well, that’s the nicest thing I’ve heard today. What on earth for?
“I read Psalm 145- about one generation encouraging the next with stories of the Lord’s faithfulness. You are just the person I needed to see.”
“Well, honey, I can’t do much anymore. But I can still pray and I can still tell a story,” said Miss Rose with a smile. Her hand were thin and spotted with age, and her once thick mane had gone wispy and white, but she still wore it with dignity pulled into a neat knot on the back of her head. “Is something troubling you this morning?”
“Oh, the usual- just life. But the Lord is faithful- he knew I’d be seeing you this morning!”
“Ain’t that the truth? I remember when Herb and I were first married, we thought everything was going to be peaches. Every young person thinks that at some point, you know,” and Paul nodded with agreement, “But then, well, life has a way of teaching you some pretty harsh lessons.”
"You know? There are times I look back on my life, and wonder how on earth people can ever make it through without the Lord. I was only a girl when the Depression hit this country. My uncle lost his job and left his family- we never saw him again.” Paul gave her a sympathetic look. “Well, my auntie and my cousin moved in with us, and my! We did have a full house. But in those days, honey, farms were a lot closer to town than they are now. And we had the biggest garden… lots of hands to help too. And I will tell you somethin’- to this day, I will hold that there’s nothing better in this world than the first tomato from a summer garden. And the Lord always had a way of delivering, even when things seemed so bad.”
Paul smiled, loving her grateful outlook and wanting her to continue. “How so?” he prodded.
“Well, my daddy farmed, and my mama did whatever she had to do. People might not have had a lot of money, but they still needed to eat. We sold eggs and butter. She even did some washing for some of the bachelors in town…” She paused, thinking back on that time. “We didn’t always have meat. We had a chicken once in a while- if one got too old to be of any use. Some bits of ham or bacon, lots of vegetables. You get used to it. And we ate lots of soup. But we took care of each other! Mama always gave some of our vegetables to the soup kitchen in the city. She said the Lord had provided and would continue to provide, and he expected us to give back out of that bounty. And, honey, He always did. Our neighbors would share if they had butchered. Or the church would organize a big potluck, and when the community shared, everyone got a taste of something. You know, when I look back on that, it doesn’t seem nearly so bad as when I went through it. I guess it takes hindsight to see a situation clearly. What I wouldn’t give to be able to see things like the Lord sees them!”
Paul shrugged off the melancholy that resulted from her words, “You’re right, Miss Rose. God always has a handle on things, even in times when it seems like He’s let go.” His voice dropped a bit as he thought of the foreclosure notice sitting on the desk in his office. “Well, Miss Rose, I cannot tell you how much I would love to sit here and listen to you. You are good for the heart!”
“Honey, the Lord has given me everything I need. My kids are going to visit later today. I have a nice place to live. The Lord is good for the heart- it just takes practice to see it sometimes.”
“Thanks, Miss Rose. I love you dearly,” said Paul, stooping to hug her frail shoulders.
She reached up to pat his hand. “I’ll be praying for you faithfully, honey. You just take care now.”
Paul walked out the door, thanking the Lord for yet another respite in the midst of an ever-worsening storm.
HEY! and don't forget to e-mail Kendra Cornell if you have a comment! She would really like to hear from you.
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