A few years ago, I was driving in a long line of cars.... from the funeral to the burial of a good man. Traveling alone, I looked at the houses and tall trees. As I followed the car in front of me, I watched people mowing their lawn. Lots of time to think.....
I was thinking mostly about John, as we escorted his body to the cemetery. I was trying to find the words that I felt best described him, the words I would say as part of our prayer and goodbye. Of course, my thoughts wandered. Every loss reminds us of other losses, and I too dipped into that place of loss in my own life. It sits behind my heart, quiet most days. But life sometimes draws back the curtain and returns us to the uncertain feelings that reside there.
I have learned to trust the feelings and thoughts that emerge from that space behind my heart. They, like John, reveal the gift of integrity. Let me explain...
John’s 90 year old body survived a long-ago stroke but responded with atrophy and spastic movements. John managed in a wheelchair, but with only one hand working his progress was slow. When I asked him if I could push the chair to events at the nursing home, I waited for his answer. It was important to recognize his choice in that moment. In spite of the serious challenges of aging, he retained a dignity and warmth that instructed all his caregivers. This was a man of integrity. A man who knew himself as whole, despite his broken body.
Each of us have broken places, some more obvious than others. Life brings loss, doubt, rejection, pain...all sorts of experiences that erode our self-esteem. Each of us have gifts, some we’re willing to name, others not so much. But as humans, we have these wonderful capacities to love, be patient, to create, to choose hope, and so many more. The call to integrity invites us to gather the “whole of ourselves,” to honor our brokenness and accept our giftedness. The call to integrity beckons us toward a life of standing in our own spot, with ease and grace, as we stand in and among the world.
We know what integrity looks like: a tree in its fullness, a chair well-made, a handshake of forgiveness. May these images and John’s story inspire you to take some time to experience your own integrity. Honor and accept your flaws, welcome and embrace your gifts. The world needs the whole of you, the “you” that God created you to be.
with love, Lisa