Eleanor sits in a chair in her nursing home room listening to books on tape. She invites me to come in when I knock at her door. She speaks freely of many complaints and concerns. Then, in tears, she says, “I just don’t think I can take it anymore.” Eleanor can walk by herself, feed herself and dress herself. She attends services when someone personally invites her. Her mind is sharp, her spirit is low. Across the hall from Eleanor is Janice, a woman in a wheelchair who is unable to wheel herself around and is fed through a feeding tube. Janice is full of generative energy while Eleanor is unable to see the value in her own living. It is no less than God’s spirit that draws each of us toward such freedom and joy. There are many residents at the nursing home who continue to live lives that are full of generatively. They have become my mentors as I make my own way through mid-life. I am grateful to them for all that they have taught me and continue to teach me—and to our God, who promises to inspire this same generativity in each of us.
This message is adapted from “Growing in Grace” by David Engelstad in the January/February 1998 issue of Lutheran Woman Today (now Gather) magazine.