“His difficulty’s ancient~

how to feel another’s hurt

and classify it, while my prayers 

for relief rise like thorns.”

At the Clinic~Luci Shaw

We walk into the doctor’s office, he carries my bag, my gatorade in one hand, the other, wraps tight around my arm. I carry the cane and me.

Wondering if folks are staring, assessing me. Making assumptions.

I sign my name. It’s a slow progression of steps, making my way over to sit next to him.

We chat, I read a bit, gaze about as I turn the pages.

When I finally look up, look around, my eyes are drawn to the old fellow and his velcro closure shoes.

A beat up walker sets in front of him. A tattered and faded, filthy tote bag attached, holding his personal things.

There is a tuft of hair poking from the back of his ball cap. His odor, a bit strong. I wonder, does he live alone. Is there no one to help him shower and dress. I suspect that kind of tenderness is missing in his life.

Fingernails, long since trimmed, on gnarled and aged hands.

His difficulties, ancient. Battle scared and beat up on the outside, I pray for his inside.

There was a son, perhaps a grandson, sitting close by. He seemed impatient with the old fellow as he paced about. Embarrassed by his out loud musings and moving around. Words, sense, could not be made of.

He came closer, sat down by me.

I looked down at his feet, the velcro closures on his shoes. Thanking God for cute ballet slippers, thanking him for the small things.

 Looking down once again, the musings for velcro snaking across my mind, I nearly wept.

The old fellow, he had no socks.

I looked back up, smiled into his rheumy eyes, glazed over with pain.

The sweet receptionist called him by name, asked him how he was. “In pain,” he says, “hurt real bad.”

His stiffness, his slow way of moving, the restlessness under his skin; touched me. Hits a mite close to home.

But the socks, or lack of, that was the thing that did me in. Did the bulky shoes hurt his feet? Were they chilled on this damp and dreary day?

To not have someone to tend him, put socks on his feet, I knew he couldn’t reach. It called out to my deepest parts. I understood.

I am blessed in that way, a sweet man. He bends over in the pre~dawn hours, slips the fuzzy warmth onto my feet. Sits patiently by me in this place.

In comparison, we were not so different. Me in my ballet slippers, he in his velcro shoes. Stooped and bent on the outside.

He had maybe a decade or two on me. His wisdom, slipping to the edges of his knowing. Leaving him addled and dazed. Mixed up he was, why he was there, why they couldn’t leave.

The imprint of him on me, the missing socks, his aloneness, another sweet moment of God’s grace.

Just days ago, I cried. I wanted to give up on the medicine, the side effects. Take my chances in the fragile bones.

My eyes are opened by the man with no socks. My heart, bends a fraction. The hard fades.

I still have my knowing. A loving, selfless man. Tends my needs. Family, they wrap around me like warm blankets. Friends, they just show up.

Grace meets me here. Shows me the good I have.

Grace, that transforms the hard into the blessings. Makes the wilderness sweet and wild, where extravagant love meets me. Provision, already there. These, the things I hold tightly in my grip. Shake off the stench of missing the old way of life.

The sweet aroma of Him, spills on the stench I carry inside.

They called his name, he goes through the door.

I pulled out a marked up index card, scribbled down my thoughts. My blessings.

Not wanting to forget this moment.

How God can use a more broken, aged man. Use him to show me all I have.

When the tears slip down my cheeks, I’ll pull this moment of grace out.

Wiggle my toes in my fuzzy socks. Count my blessings.IMG_2134

I will the feel the hurt of the man in his velcro closure shoes. Worry over his cold feet. His need for tending. Whisper the thorny prayers.

Pray, that even in his loss of knowing, He knows of grace. Holds the hope of salvation in his heart.

Let go of my thorns, and reach for the Grace.

“At the Clinic”~Luci Shaw

On a scale of one to ten…The doctor leans towards me with his pad of paper, needing to record a number for my pain.

I tell him, four for my shoulder; my hip joint, eight; my knee~not sure, changes with the weather…

It’s the old conundrum~how to to add up my complaints for his chart? Say~seventeen?

His difficulty’s ancient~how to feel another’s hurt and classify it, while my prayers for relief rise like thorns.

Graced by God

Tammy Mashburn

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