The art of learning contentment

Senior citizens have much to teach the impatient, the short tempered and the angry people

Every few weeks, we enjoy visiting our senior citizens in Dunrovan Park Lodge. I have friends who avoid visiting such places, because they find it discouraging – seeing their own future, perhaps!  At any rate, we usually find it to be just the opposite. Most residents are so happy for a visit, a change of routine, a “breath of air” from the outside.

One week I noticed papers taped to each  resident’s door. On closer look, I saw that people had filled out a simple questionnaire, giving some of their personal details and highlighting events in their lives. One question asked what their favourite vacation had been. And here is the “winning” response:  Vacation! What vacation!  We were farmers!!  What caught my attention most was that there seemed to be no negative feeling in the remark: just reality; that’s just the way things were.

A couple of weeks ago while visiting one of our boys in Grande Prairie, I had a similar experience. We dropped by a seniors’ home on a sunny, cold prairie afternoon. We sang a few songs and then chatted with the residents.  I held the frail hand of one sweet lady and remarked how good it was to see the sun that day. She must have caught the note of hope in my voice (how many times a day, this year, have you heard a quivering voice long for the snow to melt?)  At any rate, this dear woman looked up at me and said, “Oh, but spring is a long way off!  I’ve lived here my whole life and spring is not here yet!”  All of this, she said with a smile. Why was she so cheerful, while voicing the lack of something that we all want – and in a hurry, if you please?

I come away from these visits inspired by the example of people who have lived a life  full of trial and challenge who can still exude hope and good cheer.

I am reminded of Paul’s declaration in Philippians 4:11:  I have learned how to be content with whatever I have.  In light of all the things that we usually think of learning – job skills, communication skills, etc. – I rarely hear of anyone teaching or learning contentment.

But I think we should; and in this spirit, I noticed a new-to-me Facebook site:  All things Positive, Quesnel.  Go ahead; post something that is good in your town.  Go ahead; focus on the good that you have in your life.  Fix your thoughts on what is true, and honourable and right and pure and lovely and admirable. (Phil 4:8)  Learn to be thankful, and content; be contagious with the positive.

Peggy Corbett is a member of the Seventh-day Adventist Church congregation in Quesnel.

Quesnel Cariboo Observer

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