The tail end of fall is falling outside. Leaves pile up.
A holy thing.
My husband is disturbed by the leaves and wants time to mow them. Childhood comes to my mind every time I kick leaves. How I loved falling headlong into a pile. I say, “No hurry on that. I’m loving the leaves on the ground. The more the better.”
We walk through them and head for church, where there’s a Thanksgiving service and dinner. A cross hangs as a reminder of the One who came as a baby for you and for me.
The speaker is our pastor. He reminds us of our brokenness, of our pride, and of our loving God. The pastor has great concern for those who meet God suddenly and unprepared.
Someone on the other side of the church coughs.
After the blessing and wishes for a Happy Thanksgiving, we line up to walk through the buffet.
The laughter and talk, festive. My husband is in line somewhere behind me, talking with other men. I visit with the women.
Once through the line, we sit side by side. People are moving behind us to find places to sit.
Before I have my napkin in my lap, I feel a jerk on my chair and then a thud! I have sudden whiplash, wanting to know what happened.
A man with his plate and drink has fallen just behind us. Did my chair make him trip and fall? My husband and I are on our feet immediately. In a minute, women come with mops and rags. Men hover to help.
The man on the floor keeps repeating, “I’m okay. I’m okay. No, no, I’ve got it. I am so embarrassed. My feet just went the wrong way….”
He wants us to ignore him and let him clean up the mess by himself. Impossible. I was not prepared for the crash. Impossible for me to ignore that he is on the floor. I want to hit a pause button and help him.
He doesn’t understand: I need to help him. It would bless me to help him. It would bless my husband to help him. How is it that people don’t get that? But he can not let us help him. Something is missing here.
I twist a napkin into a cone.
Why is it so hard to let others help us? Do we not know it blesses the helpers? Maybe we are so embarrassed and overwhelmed that we do not know this.
He was an older man, flat on the floor and could not receive our help. (This could have been me or you, no matter the age.)
Wonder what paramedics would have done? My hunch is they would have done their job and ignored the man’s words. They are about helping.
I learned long ago, probably in a counseling conference, that we need to hurry to help the one who has the accident. Help him as quickly as we can with no words of sarcasm, blame, or shame. Just clean up the mess for him like the police do on the highway and be happy to be a helper.
It is a healing thing for the one hurt, for the helpers, for anyone watching.
God cleans up the messes I make every day. I have the consequences or broken bones or sadness, but the mess gets cleaned up. How? By my pushing my pride away and asking God to help me and forgive me.
Maybe that gets easier as we practice asking for forgiveness, as we repent again and again.
Imagine Joseph and Mary turning down the blessings offered by the innkeeper, turning down the gifts offered by the wise men and saying, “No, we won’t stay in a stable.” Or, “We just can’t take those wonderful gifts. It’s just too much. We don’t need it.”
We are a community. Let us show up and help one another.
When someone offers a gift of love, let us receive it. Let us say, “Thank you. Thank you for giving to me.”
P. S. Comments welcome, below the photo.
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Photo by Pat Durmon of leaves in our yard near Norfork, Arkansas, November 2016.