Quite a few years ago, we lived in a town in Alabama, and Adam worked at a church there. This was a dark but important time in our lives, when Adam's mysterious illness would come to a head, and move us to act on it. They were difficult days. His tinnitus -- undiagnosed and untreated -- reached such levels that he was barely functional, and could hardly work. I didn't know what was wrong with my husband. I had four small children to care for. After less than two years there, the church let Adam go. They had a big party with a "money tree," and lots of generous, loving people gave us lots of money, because they knew we would need it badly. We did. But one woman, Mrs. Dixon, arrived a bit late. In fact, she handed me her present, in a large yellow gift bag, as we were standing to leave. It was heavy. This was what was inside:
Of what use was a second set of pyrex bowls, to me?
So, I sent her a thank you note, and stuck the yellow bag, just as it was, in the moving van, and later in the basement of my parents' house, with all of our stuff. Over the next two years, when I'd go down there to dig out a book, or some clothing, I'd see that bag sitting there, and I'd sigh. It seemed to be taunting me.
Pyrex, for a woman without a kitchen.
But, after we moved to my parents' home, it took only about a month to get a correct diagnosis for Adam's tinnitus, and begin treatment. And it took only about six months until he was so much better. He began working again, a little. And finally, he was well, and he got a teaching job, and we moved again. And I got a kitchen.
I've used Mrs. Dixon's bowls (and broken one, I'm sorry to say), and each time I see them (like, daily!), I think of what an unlikely gift of hope, her gift was to me. Would you give a coloring book to a blind child? A set of roller skates to a cripple? I don't know if she knew what she was saying to me, with those bowls, but I knew.
She was saying, "You will recover from this. You will have a life again."
I cannot tell you -- I cannot tell you -- how wonderful that hope felt, as it began to break into my life like sunlight. And when I use her pyrex bowls, I remember that hope sees a future where there doesn't seem to be one. Hope, from an older person who has seen her share of griefs, says simply, "It is not hopeless."
If life is black to you right now, please remember than now isn't forever. There is always hope.