Last week I went to the most beautiful and peaceful place. A couple of friends and I drove to the Billy Graham library in Charlotte, North Carolina. As we pulled into the entrance I felt an immediate calm come over me. I knew right away that this would be a memorable experience.
We took our tour of the house Billy Graham grew up in and we learned about how it had been moved twice. Literally! Both times it was completely rebuilt with exactly the same materials. There were amazing pictures of Billy Graham and his family, beautifully written letters from Billy to his mom, and tattered Bibles from years of obvious use.
Outside, the grounds were beautiful. Truly this was a place that anyone would want to call their final resting place. As much as all the sights left me in awe, the thing that will stay me forever is the rock that lay on the grave of Billy’s beloved wife, Ruth. It simply read, “End of Construction, thank you for your patience.”
I wonder how much patience we really give to one another. With the understanding that until we go to meet our Maker we are all just “under construction”. Do we take the time to really see each other like that? When roads are under construction we drive slower and more carefully. When we see someone else going through a time of harsh change and construction, do we do slow down? Do I notice when something is wrong or slightly off with someone? Do I take the time to listen? What about with older people whose time under construction is more progressed, do I take the time to listen to them?
As part of my intentional living this month I want to slow down, have more patience with people, and remember that we are all “under construction.” I recently came across this poem, written by a nurse in 1966 named Phyllis McCormack which brought even more clarity to my thoughts:
What do you see nurse, what do you see?
What are you thinking when you look at me?
A crabby old woman, not very wise,
Uncertain of habit with far away eyes,
Who dribbles her food, and makes no reply,
When you say in a loud voice: “I do wish you’d try.”
Who seems not to notice the things that you do do,
And forever is losing a stocking or shoe,
Who, quite unresisting, let’s you do as you will,
With bathing and feeding, the long day to fill.
Is that what you’re thinking, is that what you see?
Then open your eyes, you’re not looking at me.
I’ll tell you who I am, as I sit here so still,
As I move at your bidding, as I eat at your will,
I’m a small child of ten, with a father and mother,
And brothers and sisters, who love one another,
A girl of sixteen, with wings on her feet,
Dreaming that soon a lover she’ll meet;
A bride soon at twenty my heart gives a leap,
Remember the vows that I promised to keep;
At twenty-five now I have young of my own,
Who need me to build a secure, happy homel
A woman of thirty, my young now grow fast,
Bound together with ties that should last;
At forty, my young sons have grown up and gone;
But my mans stays beside me to see I don’t mourn;
At fifty once more babies play ’round my knee;
Again we know children, my loved one and me.
Darks days are upon me, my husband is dead,
I look at my future, I shudder with dread.
For my young are all busy, with young of their own,
And I think of the years and the love I have known,
I’m an old woman now, and nature is cruel,
‘Tis her jest to make old age look like a fool,
The body it crumbles, grace and vigor depart,
There is a stone where I once had a heart.
But inside this old carcass, a young girl still dwells,
And now and again my battered heart swells.
I remember the joys, I remember the pain,
And I’m loving and living all over again.
I think of the years, all too few and gone too fast,
And accept the stark fact that nothing can last.
So open your eyes, nurse, open and see,
But a crabby old woman, look closer, see me.