Monday, January 14, 2013

Learning from Margaret

Margaret, an elderly member of our church passed away just recently. She was an unforgettable real character, and much loved. If you want a snapshot of her, it might suffice to tell you that one of the main hobbies of this nearly blind yet intrepid soul was - archery. Yes, archery. She attended a class called 'Archery for the blind'. It gives you a flavour.

A thanksgiving service for her life was held last week, in which moving testimonies were shared about how much Margaret had meant to many.

For me Margaret was a fascinating friend: on car journeys to and from her house on the edge of the city, she would regale me with tales of the War, and of her experience as a nurse. Yet in recent years, since Margaret has been quite frail and ill, she ministered to me in a new, unexpected, way. Visiting her in the nursing home she was living in, she brought me peace and taught me Sabbath.

By this time her conversation was less scintillating (though not without its fascinating flashes). Memory was failing, sight had almost gone. But Margaret had a quality of 'being'. Her life had deepened as it slowed down. Once I went to see her a little desperate because of a series of discouraging events. I spent a quiet hour with Margaret, during which she listened. I remember she said 'Sometimes things go well. And then they stop. And then they go well again.' You may not think this is all that profound, but I tell you it's what I needed to hear.

Margaret's 'being-ness' brought me back to peace.

Reading something Walter Brueggemann wrote reminded me of my times with Margaret. Speaking of the commandment to honour one’s aging parents, he writes:
"[This commandment] is closely related to the Sabbath. It, too, insists that human worth cannot be assessed in terms of economic productivity. Parents who may be belittled because they are no longer productive are indeed special candidates for Sabbath, endlessly at rest, Sabbath-enacting members of the community"
We need "Sabbath-enacting members" of our community. They keep us sane.

For this, and for much much else besides, I give thanks for Margaret.

Here is a video, made by Margaret's son, Jon, to mark her passing and celebrate her life:

No comments: