Thursday, June 18, 2009

A Father's Day Gift

Father’s Day gives us all opportunities to pray for and give thanks for the fathers in our lives – our own fathers, spouses, brothers, and sons. For some this primary relationship with our own fathers changes over the years. Older parents sometimes need the care of their children and this change of roll can be challenging for both parent and child.

Dr. Stoughton recently shared a story with me from the home based care program at St. Theresa’s Hospital in Zimbabwe that I felt was the perfect story to share for Father’s day:

A man, who had lost his wife, had three sons. Two lived with him after she passed away. Two years ago he was an in-patient on the male ward at St. Theresa’s hospital and although everything that could be done for him was tried, sadly he wasn’t getting any better. He was unable to get out of bed and was discharged and sent home. In the United States he would have been on hospice care because his prognosis was so poor.

He continued to take the antiretroviral drugs begun at the hospital after returning home. His son would make the long walk to Chengwena Clinic every two weeks to pick up his father’s medication and give a report on how he was doing. All of 2008, the father was bed-ridden, but the sons made sure he was fed and turned in bed frequently.

The sons even made a seat for him to sit out in the sun; made it of home-made bricks and put a cushion on it. The boys planted the maize and the garden, and they have done all of the cooking.
When the home based care volunteers would visit they were always impressed that they would find that the father had never developed any bedsores, had no other chronic illnesses, all the more impressive because the boys are now only 10 and 12 years old.

Dick wrote “Since the first of the year, the father has been able to walk with the help of a walker. They are indeed an inspiration for all of us, taking such good care of the father under such difficult circumstances.”

The love of his sons and their determined care has brought this man back from the brink and been an inspiration of love to all.

·For those of us whose fathers are already with our loving God in heaven, may Father’s Day be an opportunity to remember them with joy.

·For those who can take the day to share with their father, may it be an opportunity to reinforce the love and bonds of parent and child.

·And a prayer for all the fathers out there; whether you are still holding onto the back of the bicycle and running down the street, or being steadied at the elbow by your own child, or any point in-between, may the circle of love bring you ever closer and may you know the love of your children today and always.

The youngest son was not home when we were there, but just as we were getting into the car he came "running rapidly down the road" to see us and greet us, and be sure that he would have his picture taken also!

Monday, June 1, 2009

Happy Birthday Church!

We are the Church and Pentecost Sunday is our birthday – we are called – not to blow out any candles, but to share the gifts of the Spirit which we have received with all peoples.

It is the first reading from Pentecost Sunday that always resonates with me when I consider a missionary call. I do not know a missionary anywhere who wouldn’t be more than thrilled to have the people say in amazement “we hear them speaking in our own tongues.”

Sometimes for our doctors it may take two translators, one to a general language and a second to a dialect that is only spoken in a small area of the country. It can be frustrating and can also create challenges to diagnosis and treatment.

However, no words are needed for the doctor to know the concern in a mother’s heart when their child is ill.

And, no words are necessary for a mother to know that a doctor is caring for their child with compassion, and genuine concern.

No words are needed at the bedside of a woman who recognizes the reassurance and consideration in the eyes and touch of a doctor striving to offer their skills, though words between them may not yet be possible.

This is because the real language that can be understood by all people is God’s own language of love. This language crosses boarders, breaks down barriers, and can more powerfully communicate what is real between people who do not share the same language, or background or culture.

This language is a might act of God and we can each utilize this gift in all our communicating. May our words, typed, spoken, and unspoken always reflect the Spirit of God within us.

Is there a time when you have felt this powerful presence in your life?