Last summer, as my five sisters and I gathered to see my father through his final days, without spouses, children and various pets to distract us, I roused Dad who was tuned in but not engaging with us often.
"Dad," I whispered in his ear, "I'll bet you can't remember Mom's favorite passage from the book of Amos... "
”You know, the one that begins with, 'And God showed Amos a basket of summer fruit, and asked, 'Amos, what do you see?' and Amos more or less replied, 'Well, Lord, I see a basket of summer fruit...' “ [ and the Lord "The time is ripe for the people of Israel."]
Suddenly, Dad raised his head, his back straight and strong, grinned at us, and boomed out, "And I shall annihilate my people Israel!" (Amos 8: 1, 2 paraphrase mine) to the astonishment of all.
I have thought about that passage many times in the past few weeks. Recovery from an ordinary hip joint surgery prolonged because of casual missteps I have made in self-care over many years means that I am once again homebound, and pretty much totally dependent on the kindness of...GPPCers.
My list of blessings has grown from their spending the night in the early days of my recovery to encompass wonderful, creative, homemade foods, completion of necessary household chores like vacuuming, and unloading the dishwasher, and hours spent doing laundry, and grocery shopping, along with feeding birds and watering my plants. All of these things - plus making the daring trek south of the James from Ginter Park and Church Hill and Monument Avenue, and Ashland(!) where "my" GPPC'ers live! My gratitude to CARITAS folk, too, who thoughtfully sent a few of their evening meals my way. And their conversations(!) as they sat with me in the midst of very busy lives to share stories, and laughter, and deep sorrows. I am beyond grateful.
And so my focus has shifted from the all-too-real understanding/experience that "bad things" can suddenly happen in the midst of an overabundance of the good life (ranging from from the sudden loss of a dear friend, to the ongoing horrors among refugees at our southern borders, to the total destruction of ordinary life by the weapons of war in at least seventy places around the world).
The realities of Amos 8:1,2, must be held in tension with Christ's promise to be with us always, though - as Paul puts it - as we offer ourselves to each other in service and love.
Romans 12:1-13, especially, reminds me that we are the presence of Christ when we are with one another in times of trouble and sorrow. And so, with feet propped up to avoid undue pressure on my fractured fibula, I have come to the conclusion that GPPC is fulfilling God's promise to be with us always, with your many gifts of kindness - and in being present with me.
There is a new word ever present in my mind these days, transformed from the word "witness" to "with-ness." Makes sense that our being with one another, whether in prayer, or at the emergency room, or in the washing of clothes is how we Christians share God's love to the world. It is this "withness" that tempers our greatest fears as found in Amos 8:2. It is this "withness" that helps us hold true to Christ's promise to be with us always. And, as Carla puts it so aptly, it is this "withness" that assures us that no matter what we go through, Christ has been there before us, and continues to be with us, even to the close of the age.
Lindsey March is a longtime GPPC member, at last making her debut on our blog. We look forward to seeing her back on the grounds, fully mobile.