Hi there! Glad you’re here! How is everybody? Hope all y’all are doing well. Grab a glass of tea or something, and find a comfy place to relax a minute. I wanna talk about a lady I work with at the retreat center. Ms. Shirline just turned 80, and she certainly knows how to celebrate! I think everyone who knows her has attempted to wine and dine her this past month. She deserves it, though! Let me tell you about this great lady.
Ms. Shirline is a little black lady. (Please, no comments about ‘politically correct’. She’s like a mama to me!) Her hair is always pulled up into a little comb at the back of her head, and she wears glasses sometimes. She loves butterflies, and often wears them – either in a print on her blouse, or her earrings, or a stick pin in her collar. She’s a hugger – you can’t escape that love! She loves Jesus and she loves music. Pick a genre of reasonable music – country, old black gospel, the older blues and jazz, Rod Stewart. I think her favorite song is Rod Stewart’s “Forever Young”. It fits her – she will be forever young. She can’t sit still at the office – if there’s not enough for her to do, she will grab a broom or the vacuum and tidy up. She picks up the flowers that are donated to the center and takes care of seeing that they get where they are supposed to go. She visits friends in the nursing home. She sends dozens of cards every year – birthday cards, anniversary cards, get well cards – and that’s not counting the hundreds she handles for Sanctuary of Hope!
Ms. Shirline has lived some life. She’s been married and widowed, survived a fire and raised a grandson as her own. She’s worked and lived in several states, although she’s been in her current home for more than half a century. She’s been at Sanctuary of Hope since the day they started, nearly 20 years ago, as our ‘singing receptionist’ – and honey, let me tell you the lady can sing! When she starts in on one of the old black gospel songs from her church, or one she wrote herself, you can’t help but close your eyes and love Jesus more. I’ve been moved to tears more than once by the depth of her faith and her sincerity as she belts out a song for the Lord.
Another thing about this wonderful lady is her eyes. Some folks have a sparkle that you just can’t hide from the world. Ms. Shirline has what I call ‘ornery eyes’. She always looks like she’s up to something – like the cat that just swallowed the canary. She will deny, deny, deny… and then come back with a zinger. Always in total love. You couldn’t get hurt by one of those comments if you wanted to. She oozes love! I mean, it just drips out of her actions, her look, her words, her tone. I’ve seen her calm an agitated drunk, and also his friend who was on the other end of the cell phone. I’ve seen her comfort a distraught lady who was raising two small grandsons, and needed some help. I’ve also seen her take a playful swat at one of the guys with a broom. All in love, all with that sparkle of life in her eyes. That sparkle is Jesus.
Ms. Shirline knows her Jesus. She loves her Lord. She speaks of Him in a way that few others can – intimately, reverently, with absolute love and trust. Jesus is truly everything to her. If it’s in the Bible, it’s for us to do. Right is right, wrong is wrong, and everybody deserves respect until they prove otherwise. Even then, they deserve love to bring them back to dignity. For her, the church is God’s house, and it’s a place to dress properly. None of these short shorts and spaghetti strap tops unless it’s your first time in a church and you don’t know Whose house this is. She believes that respect for God trumps our freedom to dress as we please. She believes all of life is about serving and obeying the Lord, not chasing our own silly selfishness and pleasures all the time.
I’ve learned a lot from her, and learn something new every day. Something new about Jesus, about life, about respecting other people and the Lord. I’m so much richer for having met her.
What about you? Do you know someone like Ms. Shirline? Have you let them know you love and appreciate them? Or do you want to be like that someday? Do you need some help to get there? Find a pastor or a priest. They can help you get to know Ms. Shirline’s Jesus, too.