One Thing We Need to Know as Holy Week Begins

April 14, 2014 | 21 comments

I spot her in a wheelchair, and her soft eyes are fixed on something — or maybe nothing at all. I cross the dining room of the nursing home to kneel down at her side.

“We’ve come to say hello,” I tell my old friend, adding a cheery, “Happy Palm Sunday.”

“It’s Palm Sunday?” she asks. “Oh.”

Her question breaks something inside of me. This question comes from a woman who had the liturgical calendar memorized, along with the corresponding colors for the altar.  She always said a child needed to grow up memorizing Scriptures and singing hymns, because babies grow old, and their minds try to trick their hearts into forgetting things. And in those times, she told me, an old woman will need to rely on the investment she put in her long-term memory bank years earlier.

But now, at her side, I feel a hollow ache in my chest, like my heart dropped into my stomach. I want to know that she still remembers.

She’s looking at me now, when I blurt out the words: “Hosanna, Hosanna … Blessed is He who …”

I don’t finish the sentence, praying that she will. Her mouth opens, and the words bubble like a brook.

“… comes in the name of the Lord.”

And right then and there — hand in hand with an old friend — I get the feeling that the two of us aren’t alone. I spy the face of Christ in a nursing home, in a room swollen with God’s presence.  Teilhard de Chardin calls it the divine milieu – Christ everywhere. It’s one of those moments when you know the place  is swollen with God’s presence. And you’re grateful that, for once, you’re kneeling.

I fall straight into the soft eyes of my friend. And we repeat our duet, over and over again.

“Blessed is He who …”

“…comes in the name of the Lord.”

Maybe that sounds silly, but we couldn’t stop telling each other about the blessing.

For a minute, I forget she’s in a wheelchair, in a nursing home, in a place where someone else wipes her nose and puts pills in her mouth. We are simply this: Two sisters, eye to eye, speaking fluently the language of grace. The ground is level at the foot of the cross, and that’s where we find ourselves as Holy Week begins. This is the one thing we’ve all got to know: There is room here for each of us, and grace enough for all of us, and not one of us stands beyond His reach.

Whether you’re a pastor or a petty thief, a corporate executive or a cab driver — on Calvary, we’re all just a bunch of kids waiting for Dad to finish up at work. And the work is the cross, and it really is finished.

On Palm Sunday, the woman in the wheelchair and I are two kids, of flawed existence, with the certainty of a startling, cross-bought grace that meets us right where we are. We find ourselves in awe of the way that our flawed humanity butts up against our perfect Savior.

We are two women who’ve been laying down palm branches in front of our hearts, so He can ride straight in.

There on my knees, I remember anew how low Christ stooped for us, and how wide He stretched His arms.

I look into the eyes of my friend, and I think she remembers, too. She lifts a wizened hand, holding an invisible palm branch.

And she waves it.

 

by | April 14, 2014 | 21 comments

21 Comments

  1. Eileen

    “I get the feeling that the two of us aren’t alone. I spy the face of Christ in a nursing home, in a room swollen with God’s presence.” Beautiful moments. I love those sacred moments…when you just KNOW.

    Reply
    • dukeslee

      Agreed, Eileen…. Thanks for stopping by, friend.

      Reply
  2. Patricia W Hunter

    This is so beautiful, Jennifer. I have a huge tender spot for the elderly – especially for those in a nursing home.

    Reply
    • dukeslee

      Me, too, friend. xo … May you have a blessed Holy Week. (I shared your preapproved photo during the Palm Sunday service at the church where I preached yesterday!)

      Reply
  3. Amanda

    “We are two women who’ve been laying down palm branches in front of our hearts, so He can ride straight in.”- Exactly the words I needed to read. Many Blessings!

    Reply
    • dukeslee

      Blessings to you, too, Amanda. I keep uprooting Love Idols, and making more room for Christ to grow … Laying those palm branches and cloaks down for my King.

      Reply
  4. Sarah S

    “The ground is level at the foot of the cross, and that’s where we
    find ourselves as Holy Week begins. This is the one thing we’ve all got
    to know: There is room here for each of us, and grace enough for all of
    us, and not one of us stands beyond His reach.”

    I love this. It is so important to remember we are all equally sinners. We all stand equally at the foot of the cross in need of God’s grace. Not one is out of reach of it. And we don’t all have to be the same. We are all different. Different but equal. Christ paid the price for all. Thanks for the lovely reminder.

    Reply
    • dukeslee

      Amen, Sarah … The most costly gift of all time … and offered freely to those who kneel before the cross. May you have a most meaningful Easter.

      Reply
  5. Sharon O

    ok, so now I am in tears. beautiful.

    Reply
    • dukeslee

      Thank you, Sharon. xo

      Reply
  6. Trudy Den Hoed

    Such a touching story! Thank you, Jennifer.

    Reply
    • dukeslee

      Thank you, Trudy. I pray you have a very meaningful Holy Week and Easter.

      Reply
  7. Kelly Greer

    Yes in the name of the Lord…beautiful Jennifer.

    Reply
    • dukeslee

      Thanks, Kelly. God bless you, this Holy Week.

      Reply
  8. pastordt

    Beautiful, Jennifer. And a perfect description of the wide swath of emotions that any time spent in a memory loss unit can conjure up. Grateful you were able to speak/sing together of the great good news.

    Reply
    • dukeslee

      She’s a pretty special lady. A rock-solid faith, and a Jesus-tender heart.

      Reply
  9. Leah Adams

    So beautiful, so touching, and so personal given the fact that my Mother has spent the last two weeks in a nursing home in rehab. She comes home this week, but things will be different. We now have a ‘dementia’ diagnosis for her, so life will look differently. However, some things never change. I sat with her on Saturday at our church’s Passion Play and she sang the old songs of our faith along with the choir. It blessed me so much. Thank you, Jennifer, for these precious words.

    Reply
  10. Jillie

    How beautiful, Jennifer! You did a wonderful thing for your aged friend. You truly blessed her heart. I can only hope I have a friend like you when I grow old.

    Reply
  11. Anita

    The beauty of the family of God

    Reply
  12. Chris Carter

    Oh my heart… it stirs and rises in Him, with this beautiful story and powerful message.

    Thank you for blessing me today. 🙂

    Reply
  13. Amymae

    Thank you! With it being Holy Week (ie. busy week) for those of us who work in the Church, I just found time to read this. I loved this!

    Reply

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