Honor mother with gift of time, listening every day

Blessed are they…

Who understand my faltering step and shaking hand; Who know my ears today must strain to catch the things they say; Who seem to know my eyes are dim and my mind is slow; Who look away when I spilled my tea on the cloth that day; Who with cherry smile stopped to chat for a little while; Who know the way to bring back memories from yesterday; Who never say “you’ve told that story twice today;” Who make it known that I am loved and not alone; Who will ease the days of journey home in loving ways.

For some of us, Mother’s Day is a day to reflect upon the precious memories of a mother who loved us but is no longer with us. For others, Mother’s Day is a day to communicate our thanks, to spend time together and to listen and learn.

Dan Meyer writes, “Sometimes the best way to express gratitude to someone is simply to invest time with them.” One of the hardest things about growing older is the progressively fewer number of people who truly are there by our side. Struggling with busy lives, many of us younger folk neglect to make the calls or visits we should. We fail to stop long enough to hold the conversations that let our elders know that they haven’t simply been shelved.

The psalmist wrote: “Do not cast me away when I am old; do not forsake me when my strength is gone” (Psalm 71:9). Yet I read recently that more than one-half of the persons living in nursing homes today receive fewer than an average of one visit per year, and 50 percent of these people have relatives living within an hour’s drive away. When God commanded us to honor our elders, he had a deeper quality of love in mind.

One of the most meaningful ways we can express love to our elders is simply to listen to and learn from their stories. That can be hard. Sometimes the stories they tell seem so divorced from life today, or so nostalgic, or so oft-repeated. Lyman Bryson said that the error of age is to believe that experience is a substitute for intelligence; but the error of youth is to believe that intelligence is a substitute for experience. Both are so sorely needed.

God plainly commands us to give our elders the benefit of the doubt on the intelligence end. The Book of Proverbs says, “Listen to your father, who gave you life, and do not despise your mother when she is old. Listen to advice and accept instruction, and in the end you will be wise” (Prov. 19:20; 23:22).

Meyer continues, “You see, the words our elders pass along are often like the inscriptions on the silver pitcher my grandmother gave me. They are links across time to saints who sailed a good race and whose example can teach us. They display the values and truths that once-upon-a-time truly worked and might still work to bring forth something really significant in this world.”

Today let’s take a few moments to remember the lessons of yesterday, the lessons learned from our mom and our grandmothers. Let’s take those lessons learned and do something good with them. And if your mother is still living, honor her with the gift of your time, with the gift of listening, and with the desire to keep learning not just today, but the whole year through! You won’t regret it, nor will she. Happy Mother’s Day!

The Rev. Kent Hinkel is pastor of First Baptist Church in Minot.