Sometimes Spirits Need Shelters
“Do not quench the Spirit.” – 1 Thessalonians 5:12-20
Ellie adapted and adjusted to limitations caused by aging, redefining loss as opportunity.
“I can’t stay at home – how exciting to meet new folks in the assisted living facility. My children live in other states – isn’t Skype awesome? My pastor retired, but the interim (when plied with pumpkin bread) has amazing stories. My part-time job requires more vision than I have, but I can volunteer. When Fickle, my Jack Russell terrier, died, I found the perfect volunteer job walking dogs and cleaning small animal cages at the SPCA.”
For five years Ellie was settled. She avoided bingo and gossip at Plymouth Grove, but the new pastor was acceptable, and Ellie was indispensable at the SPCA. She was a model of “Thessalonian” life that Paul commends—never idle, full of contagious joy, prayerful and thankful. Then the “quencher” happened. Ellie lost the use of her legs and suddenly discovered how much of her life was based on mobility.
Then the SPCA director asked Ellie if she would be willing to sit on a small chair inside four of the shelter cages where new dogs were so timid and traumatized that they were virtually non-adoptable. Not walk. Just sit. For an hour visit with each one, Ellie sits and talks and scratches ears, if the dog is willing to approach her. Four hours a day, six days a week, she, in the words of Paul’s letter, “encourages the fainthearted, helps the weak, is patient with all of them.”
God, thank you for all the small and precious stories of unquenchable spirits. Help me recognize them, share them and live into my own. Amen.
Maren C. Tirabassi is Pastor of Union Congregational UCC of Madbury, NH. She is the author most recently of The Shakespeare Reader and Other Christmas Tales.