How did you get so beautiful?!
This was the question that ran through my mind while sitting across from him. His face was a rich dark brown, like double chocolate cookies, and each wrinkle seemed to say “I’ve earned the right to rest in this wheelchair”.
When he spoke, his two shiny white teeth stuck out like stars on a clear night. I was mesmerized at how he was able to speak with such clarity and impact, considering the limited support for his lips. I just wish I could have sat and listened to him all evening.
I suppose in the end though, it was his eyes that held my attention. He must have been new to the nursing home. I’ve been visiting there for over 15 years and I never would have forgotten those eyes. They were clear and damp, as brown as his skin and held a quality that I’m still struggling to put into words.
Imagine staring at a fire, imagine looking out over the ocean, imagine listening to a song that grips your soul. His eyes were like a life form. And as I looked into them, I felt goodness and I knew calm.
Call me crazy. Maybe you don’t believe that ordinary people affect the atmosphere around them in an extraordinary way, but when this man wheeled into our nursing home Bible study, things shifted. I saw that he was a man who knew peace & I immediately felt that peace.
He spoke in stories, he spoke about suicide, he spoke about the grace of Jesus and he spoke about excellence and striving to do well. He spoke of things that could have been offensive had his heart not blanketed them in love. He ended with “I can talk a lot. I’ll stop talking now.”
I immediately said “No! It’s good!!”
To which he deadpanned “It’s good that I stop talking?”
Everyone laughed and we soon ended the night in prayer. He said he wanted God to give Him understanding. I wanted to say “Sir, if I had half of your understanding and conviction, I would be content.”
After we ended, my new friend nodded his head and wheeled himself off to his shared room. And I missed him. I missed him! If I could have shown you a picture of him wheeling across the hall, you might have laughed. His head sported a lopsided hat, a thick bandage was strapped to his chin and his smile was curved around those two teeth. His clothes were messy and his body confined to a chair. But what that picture could never have shown you, was his soul. And it was his soul that I saw in his eyes. And it was His soul that I missed.
Maybe it was selfish or maybe it was a good question, but once I got home home, I asked myself- Am I missed when I leave the room? Do I carry a presence that is felt when I come and noticed when I’m gone? Am I more than what I look like? Do I affect people simply by the peace that I carry inside me? Is there peace inside me?
And I’m still sitting here pondering this. All I know at this moment, is that we are more. More than our flesh and more than our skin. More than our form and more than our abilities. We embody darkness or light. We are eternal. And the condition of our spirit and our soul will leave the greatest impact on those we meet.