Surprised by Peace

Sometimes, you can find peace in unexpected places. That certainly happened to me one Sunday when I went to visit my Uncle Melrose at the nursing home where he lived.

Although it was considered a “good” nursing home, it wasn’t the happiest of places. I saw few smiles on any faces as I made my way to the end of a long wing, where my uncle shared a room with another man.

No one wanted to be there; not me and especially not my uncle, who had a profound intellectual disability. He was 78 years old and had been forced to move to the nursing home after he became too medically fragile. He had been happily living at a group home, where he had friends, work and daily activities.

I used to go get him at the group home and take him out for hamburgers and for a drive around the park. He loved it. He had always loved riding in the car and now, because he was so frail, we couldn’t even do that.

Sitting on the front porch

When I got to Uncle Melrose’s room, I helped him out of bed and into his wheelchair and wheeled him into the kitchen, where we got him a glass of apple juice. Then we headed for the front porch.

It was a balmy day – perfect for sitting outside and watching the cars go by. I pulled up a chair next to him and watched him sip juice. Like always, we didn’t talk. Uncle Melrose couldn’t say very many words. Only “Yes,” “No,” and “Where are we going?”

My plan was to sit with him for a few minutes and then head out to church. But the more I sat with him, the more peaceful I became. There was something about being around my ailing, disabled uncle that brought me a sense of calm.

I decided it would be silly to leave him alone and go to church. I couldn’t get any closer to God than I already was. So I stayed and in peace, the two of us watched the cars go by for the next two hours.