Thursday, June 11, 2009

A verse about respect

This is also an angel face rose. It is similar to yesterday's rose, yet unique. I think it is amazing how God makes each plant grow, and each blossom on each plant. As every bud unfolds, it is like a song of praise to the Creator who formed it and filled it with color and fragrance.

I did not have any inspiration for what to post here today, until I read Chris's comment from yesterday. Now I know what to share.

Rise in the presence of the aged, show respect for the elderly and revere your God. I am the Lord.
Leviticus 19:32

We often let this slide, and it is to the utter detriment of our culture. We see old people as a "nuisance." They don't know how to use computers, or cell phones. They don't know what Facebook is (and they might not even care!). Often they are hard-of-hearing and we have to repeat ourselves when we speak to them. They are weaker, slower, and more confused than they used to be (never mind that they were the ones who taught us the alphabet, bandaged our scraped knees and cleaned up our vomit in the middle of the night when we were little).

If you put yourself in their place, you will suddenly understand why they get a bit cranky and defensive sometimes. With the breakneck speed of technological progress these days, anyone over the age of 25 might start to feel threatened. When we feel threatened, we get defensive, and when we get defensive, we get cross. It's just the way it is.

Yet old people have beautiful memories to share of days gone by. Sometimes the old way really was the best way, but we never take time to slow down and hear about it. No wonder our elders get frustrated, trying to tell something important to young people who constantly accelerate off to grasp the urgent all around them. The urgent is not always the same as the important, and often precious treasures of timeless truth are dashed aside for the sake of urgency.

Not only do we lose a valuable perspective when we marginalize the aged, we set ourselves up for a bitter and unhappy old age.

I read a story that went something like this:

Once there was a family, a father, a mother, and a little daughter. They lived happily in their cozy home, until one day the father's father died, and his dear old mother came to live with them.

This grandma could not hear very well. She had a bad back, so it was difficult for her to help with chores. She tried to contribute to the family as best she could by sitting in the corner and sewing or knitting.

As days turned into weeks, and weeks into months, the wife became bitter and resentful of the old woman. She gave her the worst chair in the house, a three legged stool that wobbled to one side, while she kept the best chair for herself. Then she shoved her mother-in-law into a corner of the room where there was very little light. "She's almost blind, anyway!" said the wife.

She shouted at the old woman to get out of her way when she was sweeping. She scolded her harshly when she spilled her tea, and gave her an old cracked mug, explaining, "She would only break one of my nice china tea cups!" She fed her only the crumbs and leftovers after the family had finished eating, "She can't taste anything anyway, and she certainly doesn't work hard enough to need much food!"

In the evening when the fire was burning, the wife sat close to her husband before the fire, in a comfortable rocking chair, while her mother-in-law sat in her cold, dark corner alone. The wife spoke softly to her husband about the day's events, and if the old woman asked a question about what was being said, she shouted, "Don't bother us! You can't hear anything anyway!"

The little girl played with her toys on the hearth, but her ears were open and there were eyes on the back of her head.

One day the wife noticed her daughter playing with her dolls. She paused from the bread she was kneading and listened as the little girl made a pretend conversation among them. "Over there, grandmother! Go over there and get out of my way!... Oh, please excuse me, could I have a drink of water, please?.... No! I'm too busy!"

The wife furrowed her brow and went on with her bread.

Later that same day, the little girl climbed up into her mother's beautiful rocking chair by the fire. She rocked back and forth and smiled brightly, humming a tune. "What are you doing there, my child?" her mother asked her.

"Oh, I'm just thinking about when I am the mother and I get to sit in this nice chair by the fire, and you are the old grandmother on the tipsy stool in the corner."

That evening the wife gave up her place in front of the fire to the grandmother, inviting her to sit in the rocking chair. She even gave her a pillow to sit on. And she let her have the first helping of each recipe she had made for supper, served on the very prettiest of her dishes.

This woman learned a lesson that was to her own advantage. If we would obey God's commands concerning the aged, we would not only guarantee better treatment for ourselves when we are old, we would have the opportunity to learn from the wisdom of the aged, a resource God has given us that we largely ignore.

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