Posts Tagged ‘Christ’

The elevator doors open to the Pediatric Floor. A dozen teenagers joyfully poured out, arms loaded with stuffed animals, coloring books, crayons, and small toys. They were excited about the mission work their Youth Group was doing on their day off from school: they would be visiting the sick kids here at the local hospital.

The Head Nurse met them in the corridor, gave the ground rules, then paired the teens off and sent them to specific rooms.

Two of the girls were sent to Ashley’s room, where they found six-year-old Ashley lying in bed, her parents sitting by her side in orange chairs.

The teens bubbled with their greeting. Ashley gave them a grave look and didn’t reply.

In an effort to explain her mom said, “Ashley’s having her tonsils out tomorrow, and she’s scared. She hasn’t smiled in days.”

The teens responded with wonderful compassion and understanding: Both of them shared that they, too, had their own tonsils taken out. One of the girls opened her mouth for Ashley to look inside. They told Ashley about their own experiences before and the recovery after the surgery. Ashley perked up when she heard she’d be able have all the jello she wanted. Ashley had many questions, which the girls answered patiently and honestly.

The teens gently smiled at Ashley, then handed her a stuffed teddy bear, coloring book and crayons. Ashley gave the girls a bright smile back as she squeezed the bear tightly. She gave each girl a hug before they cheerfully headed to the next room.

A God in the Ordinary moment: The teens saw Christ in Ashley, and in turn Ashley saw Christ in them.

© Diane L. Neuls DeBlasio 2011


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She is Difficult, and a personal challenge for me to see Christ in her. I’ve tried,  but the friction is always there, my feelings blinding me.

I sat at the kitchen table with a cup of tea, thinking about our latest encounter.  It didn’t go well. I had tried to be nice, but she didn’t respond in kind. I was trying to be patient. But it wasn’t easy.

A ferocious squawking and loud bird screams from the front yard broke my thoughts. Pairs of Blue Jays and Mockingbirds had nests on opposite sides of the yard: the Blue Jays in the Crabapple Tree, the Mockingbirds in the Cherry Tree. The babies in both nests had hatched, and the parents swooped at the other pair, marking territories in-between feeding the newborns. Their battles were usually loud.

The noise I was now hearing was louder and more frenzied than usual. I went to the front window to see what all the commotion was about.

The neighbor’s cat had foolishly walked into my yard, getting between the two trees with the babies in the nests. In perfect synchronization, like miniature feathered Blue Angels, the four parents were swooping down on the cowering cat’s head from opposite corners, one right after the other, emitted loud screams. Blue Jays and Mockingbirds shared each others’ territory for the attack.

Finally the cat got up enough nerve to make a run for it back to his house, diving for cover in the thick bushes by the garage.

The pairs of birds which had worked together to protect their babies returned to chasing each other.

I reflected on what I had just seen, with a renewed hope that there will be a time when Difficult and I will be able to get beyond our strained relationship, and I’ll be able to see Christ in her.

© Diane L. Neuls DeBlasio 2011

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Little Jimmy was full of energy, with no place to put it. The waiting room was crowded, the News station on the television didn’t hold his attention, and he had finished playing with all the toys his mother had brought.

We knew his name was Jimmy because his mother had called him that, several dozen times, in the past ten minutes: “Jimmy, please sit down”, “Jimmy, let’s read a story”, “Jimmy, leave that alone!”, “Jimmy, SIT DOWN!” She was quiet now, lips pursed, seething and almost at the end of her rope. Jimmy was still bouncing on the carpet in front of her.

A married couple in their mid-twenties came in during one of these “Jimmy…” episodes, and sat in the chairs opposite Jimmy and his mom. They were holding hands; the pre-op hospital bracelet on the woman’s wrist told that she was here for her pre-operation physical.

Jimmy wore a hospital bracelet, too, but with his energy level you’d never know he was sick. With a new audience in front of him he showed off how his airplane could take off, holding it high and zooming in circles, loudly making engine noises.

The people in the waiting room smiled at the distraction. Jimmy’s mother gave an exasperated sigh and shook her head.

Catching Jimmy’s eye, the young husband removed his wedding band, tossed it in the air, caught it, and then opened his hand to show that the ring had disappeared.

Jimmy stood still, wide-eyed.

The Magician made motions to sprinkle magic dust over his wife’s head, and then proceeded to take his ring from his wife’s ear.

“Do it again!!!” Jimmy said excitedly.

And the Magician did, over and over, for fifteen minutes, until Jimmy and his mom were called into the office for Jimmy’s exam. As they walked to the exam room, Jimmy’s mom mouthed “Thank You”. Jimmy and the Magician exchanged high fives, and then Jimmy bounced all to way to the exam room.

It was a God in the Ordinary moment: the young couple spotting Christ  in this rambunctious little boy, and he responding to Christ in them.

© Diane L. Neuls DeBlasio 2011

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The bright laughter of the children running around the grassy fields in the park drew Dorothy to a nearby bench. She put her grocery bag on the park bench, and then wearily sat down next to it. She had to admit, she didn’t want to go home to an empty house yet. There was too much light left in the day, and it was lonely at home. Her husband and children were gone; there was only so much company a television could give.

She was new to this town, and had met only a few people. What surprised her was that although she had passed dozens of people on the sidewalk from her home to the store, no one had made eye contact with her, or answered her “hello” or “good morning”.

The behavior of the people continued at the supermarket, even to the clerk who ignored her “Hello”, mechanically rang up and bagged her groceries, took her money, and not once look at her.

Dorothy had to admit that the indifference had hurt.

Turning her attention to the children, she smiled as she watched the kids as they noisily played their game of tag. A group of kids were picking dandelions, running back and forth to their mothers with the bright flowers.

One little boy spontaneously left the group and ran up the little hill toward her. Stopping in front of her, he smiled, and then quickly handed her the bunch of flowers in his little fist.  The Dorothy smiled back and thanked him as he turned and ran back down the hill, to continue his gathering of dandelions. It was a God in the Ordinary occasion: the boy had seen Christ in her, and she in him.

Renewing warmth filled Dorothy as she watched him fly back down the hill. She looked at the bunch of dandelions in her hands, and thought this was the most beautiful bouquet she had received in a long time.

© Diane L. Neuls DeBlasio 2011

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The screen door to the porch of the house at the Bayard Cutting Arboretum opened. Richard carefully led his wife Margaret down the ramp, gently holding her up with his left arm. They made their way to one of the plastic tables along the railing, and Richard helped Margaret get into one of the chairs facing the Connetquot River. He then quickly went back inside to get their lunch.

Sitting two tables down from them at my own table, eating my lunch and doing homework, I saw Richard return to their table carrying a tray of sandwiches and tall cups of lemonade. His cap told me he had served on a ship during World War II.

Returning to the table, he sat next to his patiently waiting wife. He then removed the paper from a straw, poked it through the cover on the lemonade, and held it to his wife’s lips as she sipped. A slight nod from her indicated she had enough, and he put the cup down. Breaking a piece off the sandwich, he helped her put it into her mouth, encouraging her to chew carefully. He continued to do this until she shook her head for “no more”. He helped her take another sip from her cup. Richard then put a straw into his cup, took a long drink on this extra warm day, and ate half his sandwich.

All the while as Margaret sipped and ate, Richard kept up a steady conversation, pointing out the kayaks and swans on the water, the geese on the lawn, and the osprey swooping in the sky above. When she wasn’t sipping or chewing, Margaret had a serene smile on her face. As Richard ate his lunch, Margaret continued to look out at the River, still smiling.

It was time for me to leave, and I packed up my notebook and textbook into my backpack. I smiled at the couple as I was walking past.

“Did you enjoy your writing?” Richard asked me. I indicated that yes, I had, and commented on his cap. The conversation continued as he proudly shared that he and Margaret had known each other since 1938, when he was at MIT and she was attending Simmons College. Margaret smiled. Richard repeated twice that it was Margaret who helped him through MIT’s program, the War, and how she took care of him and their children. He shared that Margaret has always loved coming to the Arboretum, and they have lunch there at least once a week, even though she’s been sick. We conversed a little more, then I said goodbye to each of them and headed across the lawns and gardens to the car.

As I walked, I realized how Christ was in each of those beautiful people, who had gone through over 70 years of life together. Richard had made it a point to make sure that others saw Margaret not as a handicapped person, but as a child of God, who was loved and valued by Him.

© Diane L. Neuls DeBlasio 2011

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Bowl of Ice Cream Lesson

Almighty God, to you all hearts are open, all desires known, and from you no secrets are hid…BCP

I hung up the phone, letting my son, Mike, know that we wouldn’t be heading toward my parent’s with dinner as we had planned. We looked at all the food: there was a lot, and it was a meal we couldn’t freeze.

“Hey, let’s invite Bobby over to help us eat it!” Mike suggested, referring to his ever-hungry friend.

Bobby graciously accepted the impromptu invite, and joined Mike and I at the kitchen table for an informal supper. Conversation was light-hearted, the boys (excuse me, young men) retold school days and Boy Scout stories. They  even let slip in a story which I hadn’t heard before but they figured ten years out was safe enough to tell me now.

We finished the meal in good spirits. Noticing Bobby was still hungry, I started listing things he could have for dessert. When the list got down to the offer of ice cream, Bobby shared that ice cream was a treat he couldn’t resist, and cheerfully accepted the offer.

Mike stood up, and walked over to the refrigerator. I knew that there were at least three different containers in the freezer. Mike opened the freezer door, then started to call out the names of what was inside.

“There’s French Silk…”

“Oh, yeah! That’s what I want!” was Bobby’s quick reply.

“…sherbet, Strawberry”, Mike continued.

“No, I want the French Silk”, Bobby was firm on his choice.

It had all happened so fast. Mike had broken The Ice Cream Rule: French Silk was Mom’s Ice Cream. My kids knew this container was Off Limits, and Not to Touch the French Silk.  I felt a panic coming on – how to get out of the offer politely, with grace? Unfortunately, there was no reneging the deal, Bobby would have to get a bowl of the flavor he requested.  And I was having a problem with that.

Somewhat detached, I examined my reaction: possessive, even though it was a brand new container. Granted, the container advertised twelve servings, and even though I never seemed to get more than six out of the box, I would have had five left, but, hey, it was my ice cream!

Sometimes, I picture Christ’s face with bushy eyebrows, outlining his face so I could read his expression. At this particular moment, they were raised upright, one slightly higher than the other, the expression on His face saying, “You’re kidding me, right?”

He had used a simple bowl of ice cream for an object lesson. My selfishness took me a little by surprise: I thought of myself as a generous person. I gave money, food and clothes to charities, time to others. But, did I give with all my heart? No, to be honest, I didn’t. I still held back. Not only my worldly possessions, but with myself as well.

Oh no! If God wants me to share everything, does this include the “good” chocolate I have hidden in the top cabinet?

© Diane L. Neuls DeBlasio 2011

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… And remember, I am with you always, to the end of the age. Matthew 28:20

It was predawn as I parked the car at the Captree State Park Boat Basin. A few of the charter boats were showing activity already: Captains and crews were quietly making their early morning preparations for the day’s fishing excursions. The rumble of a single boat engine broke the silence

I zipped my jacket up all the way against the chill of the air. The soft orange color of the dock lights lit my way as I walked out onto the fishing pier.

My morning adventure was actually an assignment: I was instructed to go watch a sunrise, to take no distractions with me so I could focus and experience all that happened as the sun rose.

I looked around at the predawn sky: the moon was still holding court, stars twinkling gently. Settling in at a spot halfway down the fishing pier, I turned so I was facing the Robert Moses Lighthouse. Predictably, the light flashed every seven seconds, keeping a rhythm to what I was about to see.

The color of the sky behind the lighthouse was slowly changing. Deep gray when I arrived, it slowly changed into an array of color: deep purple, then turned to purple, then deep pink. I saw clouds appear in the light; they seemed to be trying to pull the sun up from below the horizon like horses would pull a chariot. The color of the bay water went from a charcoal black color to gray, then to silver.

As it got lighter, the sea gulls woke up. Starting at the end of what I call  Gull Island, the end nearest to the emerging sun, a lone gull cry went out, as if sounding the morning alarm clock. The sleeping gulls near the crying gull woke up, and sounded their own cry. In turn, the wakeup calls continued down the island, until there was a loud chorus of sea gulls, squawking, calling out.

In wonder, I looked all around me. The bridge was now visible in the first light, and everything had a soft look to it. I listened to the early cries of the gulls, felt the cool of the early morning on my cheeks. I looked back to the sky behind the lighthouse. Deep pink turned to pink. The pastel colored clouds became more visible, and they stretched horizontally in both directions like loving arms, embracing all I saw.

The edge of the clouds became brighter, lit by the sun still not yet visible. The fiery edges of the clouds grew, and then the sun appeared on the horizon. It was a magnificent arrival of the day.

The sunrise was like a symphony, orchestrated by God; it was a powerful display of His glory and of His love for the world.

On days when I wonder where Christ is, I remember the sunrise, and am reassured that He’s with me. And always will be.

© Diane L. Neuls DeBlasio 2011

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For the message of the cross is foolishness to those who are perishing, but to us who are being saved it is the power of God. 1 Corinthians 1:18

The strange sounds coming from the hospital room caught my attention. The rhythm of the noises sounded like talking, but not in a language I was familiar with.

It was my volunteer day, and I was on my way down the hall to see if patients needed anything.

When I walked into the room, I saw an elderly woman in the bed, a blanket pulled up partway over her thin nightgown. Her arms were flailing and she was “talking”. In chairs at the foot of the bed sat her equally elderly husband, and their thirty-something granddaughter. 

The granddaughter returned my smile and “Hello”.  The grandfather gave a quick “Hello”, and then returned his worried gaze back to his wife, his hands nervously clutching each other.  Love and concern for his wife showed in his eyes. I saw God in the grandfather as he looked at his wife. 

“Grandma has Alzheimer’s”, the granddaughter said with a gentle smile while looking at her grandmother. “She her own language. She knows what she’s saying but the rest of us haven’t figured it out yet!”

The grandmother let out a few more sentences, arms moving for emphasis. 

“Grandma was just brought here from the nursing home for treatment, and the move’s made her agitated.” The granddaughter looked at her grandfather. “And Grandpa’s very concerned. He lives at home with us.” 

We spoke for a little while, and the grandmother calmed down. Declining my offer to get fresh ice water for her grandmother, the granddaughter asked me if instead I’d sit with her grandmother while she took her frail grandfather to the Men’s room. I agreed. 

She stood up, then gently leaned over and helped her grandfather to stand. He continued to use her arm for support as they carefully made their way out the door together, then moved slowly down the hallway. The devotion of the granddaughter to her grandparents was wonderful – I saw God in her that day. 

The activity triggered more talking from the grandmother, this time without the arm movements. I pulled up one of the chairs closer to the grandmother’s bedside, where I could sit so I could hear her and she could see me. 

“It’s okay, they’ll be right back”, I tried to reassure her. She didn’t seem to understand. She said a few words, and then looked expectantly at me. Not understanding what she had just said, and noting the hour, I started talking about the dinner that was to be soon delivered, and babbled about what could be on the menu. The grandmother didn’t seem to understand me, either. 

“Here, let me pull these covers up,” I said, reaching for the blanket which had slipped even lower. The room was chilly, and I thought she might be, too. 

As I leaned over, my cross necklace worked its way free from the collar of my shirt, and the cross hung freely in front of the face of the grandmother. The movement was noticed immediately: she stopped talking, and her eyes opened very wide. 

“Oh my God!” said the grandmother, loud and clear. She then proceeded to speak in her language, yet by the rhythm of the words I understood her to be saying the Lord’s Prayer. Incredulous and caught off guard, I didn’t know what to do at first. I came to my senses to join her at the end with an “Amen.” 

She smiled. And that was when my eyes were opened and I saw Christ in her.

© Diane L. Neuls DeBlasio 2011

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