So . . . once again we have moved. It wasn’t far – about a tenth of a mile from one building to another, from an upper level apartment to a ground floor apartment, but it took all the energy and patience that we had and then some. For two months we have been reeling from problems – and opportunities. Joy at the thought of being liberated from 14 straight-up steps was tempered by sorrow at losing the view from our balcony. We were re-introduced to our physical limitations and our emotional anxieties. We vacillated between “We can handle this!” and “We are so grateful for your help!” Changing addresses, changing paper delivery, changing leases, transferring electric and gas services and insurance coverage tested my courtesy and my memory. I was again grateful for my organizational skills while bemoaning my decreasing physical stamina and painful and unbalanced locomotion.
Now that the roller-coaster ride over and we are settled and happy in our new apartment, I can tally up all the help we received from our community of friends and family:
♥ The apartment manager who pointed out that, if our doctor would write a letter of med- ical necessity for a lower level apartment, we could go to the top of the waiting list – and our very busy doctor who did just that. We ended up in a new apartment with our preferred floor plan with new carpet and, unexpectedly, handicapped showers and bathtubs!
♥ Friends who offered packing boxes. It seemed as if we had a 100 boxes in the garage ready to use and a dozen more to be taped. In the end, we used every one of them – and needed no more. This remarkable story reminds me of II Kings 4 when Elisha asked the friends of a poor widow to each bring all the empty jars they could spare to her house. He then took the woman’s only treasure, a bottle of oil, and used that one bottle to fill all the empty bottles. The widow had a treasure of oil to sell. She paid her debts and saved her family.)
♥ My sister who came over twice, once to help dismantle the potted garden on my balcony and once to help me tape up boxes and pack up kitchen stuff.
♥ My son Ryan who brought his 13-year-old daughter and carried the first of dozens of boxes down the stairs to the garage, and who later brought his wife and 16-year-old son to move a bookcase I was giving to their college sophomore daughter – and, yes, carry more boxes. They also brought a huge pizza which I froze and ate for four nights before and during the move. On our moving day Ryan was busy with a tennis tournament, but still picked up our U-Haul at 7:30 A.M and brought it back at 4:00 PM. My other son Kelly came from Wichita to Grand Rapids to present a college-level academic game on the genocide in Rwanda he has written and published to interested professionals. In his free time, he came twice to the apartment to carry down boxes and even re-organized the garage so more would fit – and spent hours in great conversation, as well.
♥ The Care and Repair team from the church I served for several years as director of spiritual formation which contacted us and said they wanted to help us move. About a month later, four men in their sixties and seventies, one hobbled by a hip problem, went up and down our steps and in less than three hours had all our boxes and furniture in place in the new apartment.
♥ Doug, one of those movers, stayed behind and told me he was going to go back to the old apartment and get the food we left from the refrigerator and freezer. I protested – twice. Finally, he looked at me kindly and said, “I am offering to help you, why would you turn that help down?” I had no answer. He gave me a lesson that will last a life time – in addition to putting everything in the new refrigerator in the same place as he found it in the old one!
♥ Two women, one from one of my writing groups and one from my small spiritual formation group who offered very specific help. One borrowed her husband’s truck the day before our move and helped me lug box after box after box, all my plants, and all the garage stuff to the new garage. The other e-mailed me that she would arrive at my new apartment at 1:30 and make the beds and help get the kitchen in order. She did all that and much more, including putting up two shower curtains, my most hated task in the world of housekeeping. These two energetic and “bossy” women motivated me to get almost everything in its place by Monday noon.
Through all of these people we learned the consistent theme of life in the Kingdom of God. Life will test and life will bless, sometimes at the same time, but God is always present.