Hand in Hand
Published in All About Seniors - Winter/Spring 2021 Edition
By Walt Windley, Chaplain with HPCCR
There is something magical that happens when a little flour, sugar, eggs and butter begin to take shape, moving from a mess of sticky dough to delightful reindeer about to take flight or perfectly shaped candy canes and holiday bells that simply look too good to eat - well, almost too good to eat! Jack and Rose moved into the neighborhood about the time I turned five. I still remember her jet black hair, thick glasses and short stature, speaking with an accent that was new to these young ears and moving with a speed around her home that would have put the roadrunner to shame. She was warm and inviting in all the right ways, quickly adopting the kids next door as her “grandchildren” and teaching us the traditions that had shaped her personal and spiritual journey.
That first December, we ran to her home at the promise of endless sugar and icing, a literal paradise of fun and adventure that made these little eyes pop with expectant joy! I remember walking into her blue colored kitchen, finding little mixing bowls set up on the counter with measured ingredients ready to go. She had found a little stool on which we could stand to peer over the edge of the counter and stacked old phonebooks in her folding chairs to give us a little height at the kitchen table. Rose took these five year old hands and gently guided them in adding a bit of baking soda, baking powder and vanilla, never rushing yet encouraging-hand in hand watching my calculated moves with laser focus and laughing when I got flour in her hair. It was the way in which she led and taught that I will never forget. Patient, kind, loving - never upset at my mistakes and allowing these little hands to experience and touch the ingredients coming together as we formed and cooked. The stories of her past would endlessly flow as we waited for our creations to cool. Places she had traveled, people she had met, pictures of adventures she wanted to pass on to another generation - she taught me life at her kitchen table.
Hand in hand…
John Claypool, a Baptist minister turned Episcopal priest, was a much loved professor at my seminary in Atlanta who was known for his heart for people. He was authentic and vulnerable with his words, sharing openly his journey with loss and grief and inviting his students to sit at the metaphorical kitchen table of his classroom. It was his dealing with “mercy” that has most profoundly shaped my personal journey and informed my spiritual ministry. Claypool states that “the real meaning of mercy is that it can look on failure and still see a future.” Far too often, we are living into the image of a world that defines us by our failure or ceases to see a future because of past mistakes. Individually, we come back to those places and junctures in our lives and see dead-ends and roads that led nowhere, writing off those seasons as worthless and wanting to simply delete them from the memory banks of our minds. Words like redemption and forgiveness are like breath prayers whispered in the wind from desperate hearts seeking atonement but sensing nothing of a future.
What would happen if we changed our perspective? Maybe the first step in our own healing begins with seeing a future for another. If I am living into the shadows of my past, I have to remember that for a shadow to exist, there must first be light. And the bigger the shadow, the more powerful the light. And at some point, the light will slowly pierce through the shadow, little by little illuminating the path and guiding my steps. To whom are you light? Am I willing to imagine a future for another, let alone, myself?
Hand in hand…
Rose looked past my mistakes in the kitchen, trusting a little spilled flour and sugar was worth the investment in seeing a young heart grow and expand. And she guided using her stories, both of adventure and pain, recognizing that from a place of wisdom, healing would come hand in hand. She dared to see a future. Maybe you feel stuck. Perhaps the mistakes and failures sound louder then the “wins.” Maybe you need to start with seeing and being the future for another, illuminating their path that will lead to freedom in yours.
Hand in hand…
Rose looked past my mistakes in the kitchen, trusting a little spilled flour and sugar was worth the investment in seeing a young heart grow and expand. And she guided using her stories, both of adventure and pain, recognizing that from a place of wisdom, healing would come
hand in hand. She dared to see a future. Maybe you feel stuck. Perhaps the mistakes and failures sound louder then the “wins.” Maybe you need to start with seeing and being the future for another, illuminating their path that will lead to freedom in yours.
Hand in hand…