During the almost ten years of our lives in which we lived together with a large (by the standards of what would be thought acceptable today) group of people with developmental disabilities; their personalities, quirks, strengths, foibles and sheer uniqueness, affected my life forever. I remember each one with deep affection and respect, for each one, by virtue of the fact that they came to us having been institutionalized, had lived with emotional pain, degradation, humiliation, lack of privacy and freedom.
Abe died in the nineties, some ten years after the ten years we lived together, but our lives had continued together until then, and he is one of my life teachers.
He was a Jew, a short, intense and wiry man, with a sallow skin and piercing brown eyes that were usually serious in expression. He was prone to conversations with himself and long walks during which he could be spotted rubbing the palms of his hands together in excitement over some private thought.
He often carried a note book and bible, and the note book was filled with his idiosyncratic writing; pages of pages, in which he would copy out passages from his bible endlessly. He was like a modern day scribe!
Somewhere in his life, I'm not sure when, he had discovered Jesus and acknowledge him as the messiah promised to his people, the Jews. I once asked him about it and all he could tell me was that he read about it in the bible and that's how he knew.
An introvert, living in an institution must have been crazy making for Abe. Paul worked there while Abe lived there, before we became his "house parents," and tells me of finding Abe locked in a washroom for long periods. As a brand new staff back then, and trained to wonder what could be going on if someone hid themselves away in a washroom as Abe did, he discovered that it was the only place Abe could find to be alone. There he would be, with his bible and note book, happily copying out scripture.
From Abe I have learned to copy out scripture myself. I love doing it and have a special book; one of the lovely journals given to me as a gift; in which I write out the verses that are particularly significant to me. I love to open it up sometimes and read them through. Sometimes I've written the same verses out more than once. It is as though in the writing out of them, they are written more deeply on my heart. I often think that of all my possessions, that would be among the most precious that I would choose to inherit, if I was one of my grandchildren.
I thought of Abe as I sat writing in my note book, copying out the beautiful scriptures of yesterday, from my birthday morning Daily Light, and want to honour him here:
Daily Light on the Daily Path: Yesterday
- Morning: Galatians 5:22; Galatians 5:23; Exodus 34:6; Ephesians 4:1; Ephesians 4:2; Ephesians 4:32; James 3:17; 1 Corinthians 13:4; Galatians 6:9; James 5:7; James 5:8
But the fruit of the Spirit is… patience… gentleness.
“The Lord, the Lord, a God merciful and gracious, slow to anger, and abounding in steadfast love and faithfulness.”
Walk in a manner worthy of the calling to which you have been called, with all humility and gentleness, with patience, bearing with one another in love.—Be kind to one another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, as God in Christ forgave you.—But the wisdom from above is first pure, then peaceable, gentle, open to reason, full of mercy and good fruits, impartial and sincere.—Love is patient and kind.
In due season we will reap, if we do not give up.—Be patient, therefore, brothers, until the coming of the Lord. See how the farmer waits for the precious fruit of the earth, being patient about it, until it receives the early and the late rains. You also, be patient. Establish your hearts, for the coming of the Lord is at hand.