Stubborn joy. Probably not the way you'd expect me to describe my new friends from last week, but I can assure you it fits. As I sat in chapel service awaiting my chance to speak, it occurred to me that I have never been around a more defying group. Mind you, there are no pews to sit on and no chairs to recline in; not in this cafeteria-turned-chapel. But please follow me around the room. In the back row, a husband and wife hold hands; Lord only knows how many times their fingers have interlocked. Next to them, a sweet frail woman accompanies the piano with an old tambourine; I can imagine what music has meant to her. And then standing in front of them, the Chaplain. Throat cancer survivor and widower. Yeah, it fits. Amidst the wheelchairs and the rolling beds it was easy for me to understand why Sarah laughed at God the way she did. Or for that matter, why the older men holding the judging stones were first to leave the courtyard. I suppose if you live long enough, the more opportunities you have to be surprised by God's grace or reminded of His mercy.
Well, I got through my short message and took my seat again. The life they've lived and what all God has seen them through, I'll never know; a century's worth of celebrations, triumphs, disappointments and pitfalls perhaps. But in closing we took our hymnals and began singing with gladness and tears hymn #26, "It is Well with My Soul" and #18 "Count Your Blessings." Songs that - when preceded by a lifetime - are sung with stubborn joy. Jimmy Peña
For Discussion: I want that kind of joy. The kind that looks pain in the face and winks. What about you?
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