I have memories of my dad taking me for a walk when I was small. My strongest recollection is of the way I used to hold his hand, the big broad feel of it, and wondering when my hand would be big enough to cover his. My daughter is 11, but every now and then I find myself holding her hand when we’re on the road. We want to protect what is precious to us and what is weak and vulnerable.
Now the roles are reversed. My dad is weak and vulnerable; so is my mom. I find myself leading him exactly like a child learning to walk. Occasionally his knees look like they’re about to buckle. It fills me with concern and makes me think. Each day is a mighty act of God’s loving grace that gives one more accident free day to the old, the very young, the weak and the vulnerable. In the face of the chaos that humankind has reduced life to, each still living, fragile person is a miracle of God’s mercy and sustenance. I’m grateful for the many, actually 90 multiplied by 365 = 32,850 days that God has looked after and led my dad through the many difficulties, dangers and hardships; and also the many joys, gifts and blessings of life.
Today he hasn’t passed urine for much of the day and his feet are more swollen than usual. Some of you may know my dad’s history of kidney trouble and that it is now 19 years from the time we all thought he was going to die of kidney failure, and the miracle of the months after that. The last few weeks have been an uphill task to nurse him back to some health since he lost all interest in food. At this time, Jesus’ words come back to me, ‘Come to me all who are weary and heavy burdened, and I will give you rest.’ The Psalm says, ‘Our times are in His hand.’ I have said many prayers for my dad. I say a quick prayer again. It has been a blessing and an honour to look after parents, Lydia’s and mine. People who have sacrificially given us life and the best that they could give us that was within their power.
Tomorrow is our faculty meeting. Everything in me wants to not go, to not have to prepare, to not seek vision, and to let someone else bother about it. But the roles God gives us come with not just the responsibilities, but with the grace to fulfill them. My head knows this; my heart and flesh struggle to accept this. I pray for the grace to juggle many bottles of preciousness. There are many frailties in life, in situations, in other people besides those important to us; and each of us have the God-given mandate to provide strength in those areas. I really believe that each of us is crafted to be the unique scaffolding that reveals the grace of God to others.
And teachers have students, and not all are frail-looking arousing instant compassion in us! Some are very annoying to us. We really, as teachers, more than anyone, need the gaze of God to see the frailties in them that we need to serve, and the heart of God to serve with compassion.
And teachers need teachers. Friends who understand the journey, who will provide strength, grace and help along the way.