Tuesday, October 23, 2007

Corporal Acts of Spiritual Mercy

I borrowed the title for this post from a poster on the wall of our local Catholic church where I have been attending a little Bible study on the gospel of Matthew with my friend Emily. The poster's title reminded me of the fact that I have recently seen the gospel of love lived, bodily, in the lives of those around me in response to my Grandpa's ailing health.

What is love?

Love is Mom moving Grandpa into a wheelchair and hurting her finger so badly that she must make a trip to the Emergency Room.

Love is Dad changing his father-in-law at 12:45 in the morning.

Love is Aunt Joanne and Uncle Michael allowing Grandpa to sleep in their bedroom for the last five years so that they could hear if he needed assistance.

Love is a recycling bin full of feeding tube formula cans.

Love is the children giving Grandpa kisses in the morning even though he can't respond.

Love makes our house smell like a hospital.

Love is Uncle Mark hauling furniture half-way across the country and up stairs and hills so that accomodations could be made to welcome a big hospital bed.

Love is Aunt Joanne bringing Grandpa to a soccer game, even though he has to be transported on a stretcher, just so he can be near his grandson's exciting moments.

Love is Mom and Dad deciding that a house is never too small to become a home of nursing for the aged.

Love is Grandma and the family deciding not to put Grandpa into a nursing home so that he can live under the same roof as the bride of his youth.

Love is Aunt Joanne and Mom searching all day for a chair that might allow Grandpa to join us at 5:45am in the morning for Bible reading, even though he may never open his eyes.

Love is Mom not traveling because Grandpa cannot be left alone.

Love is Grandpa continuing to breathe and fight for life even though it may be hard to find meaning in lying in bed all day.

Love is understanding that we care for the elderly as we care for newborns - as caring ushers who prepare the frail for a new stage of life - the newborn for a finite life, the elderly for an infinite life.

Love is giving even when it furthers no personal interest of your own. Love is finding yourself surprised that when you give for no personal interest of your own, you encounter the love of God in the hidden places of diaper storage bins and beeping feeding tube monitors.