People often say, “I don’t want to live until I’m old and feeble.” Jesus warned Peter about life, saying, “Some day they will come and dress you and take you where you don’t want to go.” Saying essentially, “You won’t be the one to decide. Life will demand of you that others will direct the course of your days. You will have to learn to live with grace, to develop an amenable spirit, a cooperative heart, to go along with those who are trying to help you. You’ll have to live without bluster and command.”
To themselves people say, “Not me. I will not go easy into that good night.”
At a 90th birthday party I had a chance to watch the woman I love most dearly, my companion and teammate in life for 70+ years, handle attention, respond to people across the world who were telling the truth about her, about her grace and kindness, and how she handles life – from friends, even from the State House in Uganda, to people who had traveled the dusty roads of Africa with her and seen her in the midst of people’s sorrows and sin, their grief and anger, as they struggled to forgive those who had taken the lives of their family.
Mama Molly was remembered for leaping out of a car in the midst of an afternoon traffic jam in Kigali, Rwanda, and directing traffic and disappearing into her car after the jam was unsnarled. For saying to our host after a dinner in his home, “Well, if you’re the one to be the next president of the Pilgrim Center, I hope you’ll tell us!”
There were tears and laughter as people told of the remarkable wisdom and forthright approach to life of this petite and surprising white-haired woman who saw to the heart of the matter and fearlessly declared what she knew – whether in her own home or on a public street in a land 10,000 miles away.
This was the mother of five, who got tired of hearing the stand-up party conversation of people’s off-hand reports of their jobs and achievements in the marketplaces of their days, who finally said when asked what she did, replied, “I hold the world together, what do you do?”
This woman has learned in her long years who she was, and that she could be herself and tell the truth in any company, with an ingenuous smile, from her humble heart.
She has helped her children be themselves, even as she was finding ways to be herself, and helped us all to live with at least the occasional grace of living for others. We are still learning, and she is our teacher.
Though 90, she still walks fast, and thinks precisely and acts without fear. She is sure of God her Father, and knows what He’s said He’ll do, He will. All will be well she promises – even though different.
She remembers the Spirit coming to her when she was four, sitting in a sunbeam on the floor of a simple Quaker Meeting House in Purchase, New York, and was my quiet, confident encourager when I was overwhelmed by the Spirit at a Catholic school in Collegeville, at the age of 40.
She learned early to forgive, and in all our years has never held a grudge. We think there is much to do in the time that is left. We try to meet the days with hope, as they come, knowing Whose hand we hold.
In these days of the world’s, America’s, and the Church’s need, each day counts. What a good time to be alive.
Love you all,
Arthur, your friend.
Arthur A Rouner, Jr -
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ARTHUR ROUNER MINISTRIES