The Peura Family

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Zachary Peura
7 Months

Inspirational Story

Peace Lutheran Church: Writing by Kristin Peura

A Prayer of the Heart
Kristin P. Peura

Gracious Lord, Just as we see the light from the tomb as the Good News of your love for us, we see in the singular act of raising up your Son to everlasting life, the possibility that we can embrace new life, too. And just as the mothers-to-be in our congregation are poised to embrace the new life that issues from their bodies as a child to be born into their families, so, too, do the elderly among us look forward to embracing new life in their death into your body.

I see your people - your faithful people - making their way through life, torn between forces that have the power to pull us all apart. In sharing our secret hearts with each other, we try to unburden ourselves, putting into words what lives inside our skin. But oftentimes we present ourselves only as we would have another see us and not as we perceive we really are. But you, gracious God, you see into the very heart and soul of us.

I do not believe that it is ever your desire that your children should suffer. Why then, Lord, is there so much pain in your creation?

There is pain in Grammie's life as the fall she sustained two years ago and the recent surgery and heart problems have changed her way of life forever. She is much less mobile now and must depend on a walker to move even the few steps from her bed into the bathroom. A nearly unspeakable fear grips David and me whenever the telephone rings in the middle of the night. We wonder if it will be news of Grammie falling again.

There is pain in the uncertainty which fester both in Grammie's life and in ours. We do not know if these illnesses with which Grammie lives are the beginning of the end or if there is more suffering in store for the matriarch of our family. She suffers from diabetes, and must take twice daily doses of the insulin which she currently administers. The bilateral hearing aids she wears allow her to hear only, at best, 40% of the conversation swirling around her. She is nearly blind and her decreasing sight prohibits her creative mind from reading. And while her artistic heart and mind are capable still of painting beautiful watercolors, her eyes can no longer differentiate between the colors on her palate or the shapes her fingers pencil on the canvas. The stroke she suffered years ago imprinted its mark on the left side of her body and now her right, which had been her strength, is broken, too. And now that she is quite infirm, she relies much more on her family to make the decisions for her that change her life so drastically. This is not to say that she has given up, for she has not. But age and illness and the passage of time have left their indelible marks on her and she is occasionally confused, sometimes having difficulty thinking things through.

But in this brokenness, Lord, there is tremendous faith and grace. And it is Grammie whom you use to disseminate the compassion of Jesus Christ to me.

When she is able to attend Peace, after the service, and sometimes even in its midst, little children gravitate toward this frail, elderly woman perhaps because they sense a kindred spirit. In spite of the heaviness she bears there was a twinkle in her eye as five year old Nikki ran to her to give her a hug and to whisper a confidence. "Guess what?" she said a year ago, "I have a new baby brother and he spits all over!" "Wow," says Grammie, "I do too!"

Before she was confined to the assisted living program at Our Lady of Peace, a residential care facility in Charlottesville, her pleasure was to bring a ray of sunshine into the lives of others whom she deemed less fortunate than herself. Grammie would bake muffins with little candy hearts in them and teeter up and down the hallways with her basket of goodies over her arm, knocking on doors, bringing moments of grace into the lives of her friends. Occasionally when she would go to the apartment door of someone she thought she knew but had not actually met, a new friend was made simply because Grammie cared enough to share herself with the stranger who did not remain one long. And your light shone a little brighter and much warmer for her being your hands and heart that day.

Even now that Grammie's living arrangements preclude visiting others, she carries on a ministry of cards in spite of her blindness: condolence cards when a beloved spouse dies, leaving a whole in the heart of the survivor as big as the ache that festers in Grammie to this day as she lost her life partner of more than 50 years three years ago; friendship cards, commemorating little daily victories over the forces that tend to wear us down; and birthday cards in honor of the momentous occasion of simply being enough alive to be surprised with it for another year. Sometimes, in spite of her good intentions, a sympathy card will be delivered to the mailbox of one who is celebrating a birthday. And we all laugh, but gently, when we hear that her eyesight, but not the compassionate eyes of her heart, has failed her again.

Even though I am busy, Lord, help me to remember that it is the closeness of her family that brings Grammie the most pleasure. When I sit down and touch her, listening to the stories that are repeated over and over again, I am strengthened both in the giving and in the receiving, for it is through this grand old woman that you pour your spirit. I see it. I hear it. I sense it through others. And I live it because it lives in me, too.

But, Lord, there is pain in not knowing what lies in store for any of us. For even where there is great faith, do not doubts steal into our hearts in the darkness of the night? And, of course, Grammie has doubts, but they are not nearly as big as her knowing your grace. So she lives, giving thanks to you for simply this one day that spreads out before her as she arises each morning and through which she must live. And in the living is giving. And in the giving is love. And in the love, you are there for all of us to know.

Guard our Grammie, Lord, against facing more than she has strength to bear. Seal into her heart the knowledge that her future will not be fraught with pain, but is a glorious step she will one day take. Give her the ability to remember your love even when she is forgetful of it. Keep her steadfast in her faith so that in her living it, she knows that you still have a mission for her to complete. Give her family the gift of time to spend with her, and in the process, help us realize that in the doing of it, it is we who are blessed most of all. Amen