On Sunday, I preached about overcoming fear. I thought about the widows in both the old testament lesson from Kings, and the new testament lesson from Mark. Both women were sending me a message – to hold on to hope, even in the midst of fear.
This is, of course, easier to say than to do. How do we hold on to hope, or stay brave, in the face of fear? Can we cultivate courage?
I can think of examples of many parishioners who inspire me in this regard. When I visit someone who is homebound, or bed-bound, who maintains a particular joy, I am awe-struck by their bravery. Something which must be so challenging, and so limiting, is somehow kept in check with a sense of courage. Of course, there are harder days and easier days – but even on the harder days, we are usually still able to laugh together.
There is one woman in particular who I am thinking of, and this week have been inspired by. She is a regular at our Jazz Vespers service, has many health challenges, and needs some assistance in getting from the Handi-Van to the church. Last Thursday, she called the office as she was coming close to the church (which is her routine), and I went downstairs to meet her, help her to the bathroom, and then to her seat in the church.
She arrives about an hour and a half, or two hours before the service. She told me that then she can get help more easily, and doesn’t cause such a bother. She shared with me that she had been listening to a Chicken Soup for the Soul series, on people facing challenges, and had been inspired by it.
As we walked into the church, we talked about the gospel lesson, of the widow who gives her two mites. “I have all I need”, she said to me. “I won’t die with money, but I never had any in my life. But I know that the man upstairs is taking good care of me. All I need has been provided.”
Tears came to my eyes, and I was grateful that she couldn’t see me. I was so touched by her faith — so inspired by her witness. She was a living courage to me that day — and, indeed, every week that she makes her way to worship with us.
I am reminded that God hasn’t just given me stories of courage from long ago, but is writing them still in the hearts of those I am called to serve.