“Put on then, as God’s chosen ones, holy and beloved, compassionate hearts, kindness, humility, meekness, and patience, bearing with one another and, if one has a complaint against another, forgiving each other; as the Lord has forgiven you, so you also must forgive.”(Colossians 3:12-13 ESV)
In the last months of his life my brothers and I moved our Dad from a crowded V.A. hospital several hours drive away to a local nursing home just a few miles from us. I spent as much time as I could visiting him there. Cancer had ravaged his body and was now eating away at his mind. I could tell that he only had a few months or weeks left to live.
During one of those visits I walked into his room only to find him in a deep sleep. I sat by his side for a while silently wishing for more time with him and also regretting that I hadn’t made the most of all the years we did have together. I got up and started to walk out. The nursing home smelt strongly of disinfectant. And in spite of the kindness and loving care of the over worked staff, there was an air of sadness and loneliness in this place. So many people were nearing the end of their lives here and I am sure many visitors had the same regrets that I did.
Finally I reached the doors and walked outside. A rain was starting to fall and it matched my mood. As I started to walk to my car, though, I saw a woman in a wheelchair struggling to move herself out of the rain. I quickly walked over and helped push her inside. She thanked me and gave me the most beautiful smile I had seen in a long time. In that moment I felt a light shine into my soul and a warmth return to my heart. I walked back out, let the rain wash over me, and thanked God for all the years He had given me with my Dad. I also knew that even if Dad died, the love we shared would still go on.
I still think of that moment of loving-kindness often. It reminds me that while we might not be able to live every moment here to the fullest we can still cherish the moments we do. Life is meant for love. Life is meant for kindness. And love and kindness transcend even death. They are eternal treasures in the eyes of God. May you fill your days with them.
Joseph J. Mazzella