A Lesson From Mrs. Teagarden

by | May 22, 2005 | Compassion

We always kept an eye on Mrs. Teagarden. She was an elderly lady and she and her husband usually sat on the right side of the church about four pews from the front, next to the middle aisle.

She was constantly looking out for us teen-aged girls and one time when we had a young, good looking evangelist visit our church, Mrs. Teagarden nodded her head meaningfully as she whispered to us, “If I were you, I’d set my cap for him!” We were so embarrassed that we nearly melted into the pew as we hoped nobody else heard her. We knew it was her way of saying that she approved of the young man and hoped one of us might be interested in him as a future husband.

Each Sunday my girlfriends and I sat together in church and it became a bit of a game for us to watch Mrs. Teagarden.

Mrs. Teagarden was a petite little lady who dressed very neatly and her outfit always included her hat and gloves, yet it was not her attire that interested us. It was her facial expressions that we watched very closely. We had to keep an eye out and watch for “the look” lest we miss it!

“The look” was something that is hard to explain, you just had to see it, but we soon found out that we could anticipate it by what the minister said in his sermon. The first one of us who saw her even begin to exhibit “the look” would promptly nudge the other and we would stifle our giggles as we took delight in watching her. “Here it comes, she’s going to do it!” our eyes would tell one another without saying a word.

It seemed like “the look” would begin to appear whenever something important was being said during the minister’s message. It was when he would begin to talk about someone’s need, suffering, or a crisis. Whether it was in our own community or elsewhere in the world, it didn’t matter to Mrs. Teagarden. We knew this was usually our clue as to when she would turn around ever so slightly in her seat, look toward the rest of the congregation, and present us with. . . “the look”.

It was as if she wanted to be sure everyone understood the vital importance of the minister’s statement. If he spoke of something that concerned us children, we would then be favored with “the look” being turned straight toward us.

It wasn’t that we were making fun of Mrs. Teagarden by keeping an eye out for “the look” because we all loved her. We were just young and looking for something to do besides sit still and listen as we should.

I didn’t know back then that what I saw and thought was humorous would be something that I would remember and see in a whole new light in later years so I really did learn something without realizing it at the time.

Now I understand that “the look” often said more than the minister’s words could say because Mrs. Teagarden was a lady who cared about people. It seemed to break her heart to think that others were suffering.

If it were possible to create words to describe “the look”, it would be something like a bit of a frown, a slight smile, and an expression of sadness all mingled together with tear filled eyes. “The look” said something like: “I care, I want to help, and I love you. Won’t you please care, help, and love too?”

I learned an important lesson from Mrs. Teagarden. I learned that it was important to love and to care but I also learned that action should always go along with it. She didn’t stop with “the look” as some might do but she was ready to do whatever she could and encouraged others to do what they could also.

I’m confident that Mrs. Teagarden simply reflected the great gift from above that had been given to her because “the look” of compassion began many years ago when “Jesus went forth, and saw a great multitude, and was moved with compassion toward them.” It was “the look” that said, “I care, I want to help, and I love you.”

Pamela Perry Blaine pamyblaine@blaines.us


A Lesson From Mrs. Teagarden