We were at my wife’s sister Marilyn’s home in Montana.  We wanted to spend a few days with her because her husband had just died.  We spent our time together doing some yard work and some hiking and lots and lots of talking.  One day Marilyn came to me and asked if I could look at her garbage disposal because it was buzzing but not turning.  I got down on my back and looked at the disposal under the sink. The reset button was pushed in so that was all right.  I asked Marilyn if she could find the wrench that you insert into the bottom of the disposal to see if I could turn the disposal and loosen whatever might be jammed between the blades and the wall of the disposal.  She found the wrench and I turned the blades and a little piece of bone came free and she was back in business.  As I performed this operation Marilyn was looking over my shoulder so she could see where the wrench fit into the disposal.  She made sure she understood how it worked so that the next time the disposal jammed she could take care of it herself.

It was a little lesson in home maintenance but it was also a big lesson in dealing with life.  When your heart is grief stricken and tender everything can be overwhelming.  Opening the mail, getting groceries, answering the phone, and making a meal can become huge tasks that require more energy than you can muster.  Grief stirs up our fears that we won’t be able to take on additional tasks.  We won’t be able to take care of what we used to do  let alone adding new tasks to the list.  Grief makes us feel small and inadequate.  But grief also leads us to the land of discovery.  Can I unplug a garbage disposal?  Can I run the house by myself?  Can I keep going where I am or will I come to see that life is leading me in a new direction?

Marilyn is entering the land of discovery.  This farm girl who learned how to drive a tractor and became her father’s right hand man until her brothers grew big enough to take her place is learning that she is resourceful.  She can learn.  She can do many things.  She is not helpless.

So I am handing the wrench over to Marilyn.  I have confidence in the strength God has given her.  I and many others stand by ready to advise and help when necessary.  But we will especially continue to applaud our dear Marilyn as she turns little lessons into big lessons

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