“This was my great hour of need, to have someone like Ray who could get right inside my skin and feel with me and sort me out.”
~Rosalie Leaney, Whose Hand Is This?
Sometimes we don’t truly get accustomed to love until we get it tangibly in our times of despairing. The depths of shrieking inner desperation necessitate the panicked outstretching of our arms as we clamour for any semblance of care; of heart-reconciliation—and when it comes... sheer, God-attended, sobbing relief.
It is very humbling that this quote above—from a woman in the darkness of the most profound grief, having only weeks beforehand suffered a bewildering life-reordering stroke—refers to my now father-in-law. How can the heart commence its own description of the power of love to reach into a broken life and redeem hope? I sit wonderfully amazed.
I don’t know much but perhaps what captures this best is this thousands-year-old wisdom:
“Sorrow is better than laughter,
because a sad face is good for the heart.”
~Ecclesiastes 7:3 (NIV).
There’s a better place to be than at a party, merriment and cheer. It’s the place of love at a time of need. There’s a better place than humour. It’s the time of rank, forlorn sadness etched in truth that money cannot buy off. Nothing changes it, nothing ever.
Reality may be hard to beat; not many of us perhaps have suffered such a physically death-rendering thing as a major stroke, but we too have our pains which only love ‘inside our skin’ could attend to.
We never need this love until we do. But when this happens a strange thing occurs. We are forever softened; our tenderness immortalised by our pain; touched to the core and destined never to be the same again. And for this we praise God. For what he has done to and for us.
This is the one true thankful thing: we have waited until we were crushed and spiritually vanquished to fully come to life and to feel its parody of richness; depths, yes—oh, the calamitous depths—but now (coming are) heights too. Though they tarry, they surely will come!
We wait half or all our lives to be touched and inspired, and then when it happens we can scarcely believe its power, simplicity, and especially its method. In our ‘great hour of need,’ to have a person come in and show the way gently; that way of love and understanding—beyond platitudes—that is life, full and rich.
Now, whoever they are, will you love your minister back? Of course, this is a rhetorical question... you’re already doing it!
© 2010 S. J. Wickham.
Reference: Rosalie & Gordon Leaney (with Geraldine Mellet), Whose Hand Is This – Our Story of Stroke, Recovery and Love (Fremantle, Western Australia: Fremantle Arts Centre Press, 1999), quote taken from p. 62.