A Nursing Home Outing
Scattered around the room were stooped bodies slumped in wheelchairs. Listless eyes stared at the floor while old ladies rocked baby dolls in their arms. Everything seemed hopeless and sad, that is until we started singing the first Christmas carol. The transformation was magical. Heads lifted, eyes opened, smiles appeared on elderly faces, and aged lips began to form the words to Angels We Have Heard on High.
Now I stood in amazement as decrepit hands clapped, and people who didn’t seem to know where they were or why sang every word to every carol. Music had awakened them and transformed them to a different time and place in their lives.
At the end of the service, I wandered from person to person taking their hands in mind or patting them on the shoulder. Each person longed to be touched, to experience that human contact. “Merry Christmas” I said over and over. Already they were reverting to the limp creatures I had seen when I first came into the room, perking up only as I came to them and greeted them.
A man two rows back was reaching for my hand, but he was too far away. “That’s ok,” I told him. “I’ll come back to you,” but he didn’t comprehend what I was saying. Desperately he tried to maneuver his wheelchair closer and in the process repeatedly bumped into the chairs in front of him.
“Stop it!” said one of the ladies he kept bumping into, but he didn’t understand. He just kept trying to get closer. All of a sudden, the elderly lady swore softly. To be truthful, on my own, I didn’t think much of it. I hear those same words every single day. I don’t like it, but I suppose my ears have become desensitized. Three women, however, who moments before had seemed as lethargic as anyone else in the room, sat straight up in their chairs as if someone had just popped new batteries into them.
“YOU watch your mouth!”
“Shame on you!”
“Don’t you talk like that!”
The guilty party feebly tried to defend herself. “He kept bumping into me.”
“That doesn’t matter; you know better” and then the three women fell silent as they once again became wilted figures in their chairs.
The entire exchange had taken no more than 30 seconds, but the incident has hardly left my mind since. “Thou shalt not take the name of the Lord thy God in vain,” rolls over and over in my head. When had hearing someone swear stopped shocking me?
As believers in Christ, we should be shocked, appalled, and offended when people use the name of our Lord and Savior as curse words. I went to the nursing home to bring Christmas cheer but left with a reminder about the preciousness of the name of my God.