Pathways through Lent

A Sprig of Mint

The Fourth Saturday of Lent

[Dietrich Bonhoeffer, Pastor and Theologian, 1945]

Jeremiah 23:9-15 Psalms 33, 102, 108 Romans 9:1-18 John 6:60-71

The frigid December wind buffeted the poinsettia I was holding for my LEM call, its fragile tropical leaves trembling as I hurried the few feet from the doorway of my condo building to my parked car. “Why did I choose today, of all days, to make this call?” I grumbled to myself as, the plant safely deposited in the back seat, I pulled away from the curb.

My destination, the home of an elderly, frail parishioner recovering from a recent surgery, was a modest roughhouse in a non-gentrified area of the city. I had no idea what to expect as I parked down the block and, shielding the plant against my coat, approached the house. Nearing the front walk, I could see neighbors inside, the front door ajar. The parishioner, a tiny, birdlike woman, emerged from their midst. She spoke little; her vision appeared limited. Accepting the poinsettia with a welcoming smile and handing it to a neighbor, she grasped my hand and insisted on leading me back down the front stairs into her front garden.

As the wind continued to gust, I urged her back inside. “You shouldn’t be out in this weather,” I cautioned. She demurred and, still clasping my hand, shuffled into the middle of a clump of weeds. All I could see were dead stalks and dried plants. Her vision proved much more acute than mine, however. Bending down, she picked a clump and handed it to me. “A sprig of mint for you,” she said.

As I drove back home to Georgetown, a pile of brightly-wrapped Christmas presents awaited me. None could compare with this heartfelt gift whose fragrance now wafted throughout my car. Which one of us, indeed, was truly gifted with sight?

I’ve often observed that God puts people into our lives at exactly the moment when we most need them. What I had perceived as a tangle of weeds proved instead to be a wondrous and humbling gift. Thanks be to God for allowing my pathway to intersect with that of this generous woman of infinite vision.

(If you’d like to participate in visiting and pastoral care ministry, please email Kaye Edwards.)

Mint (Image from Wikimedia Commons)
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