A Touch of Gray

“Tell me your name?” Henry said looking intently at my name tag. “I am legally blind.”

“My name is Sam,” I replied.

“Sam who?” he asked loudly.

“Sam Dick,” I added.

“Ohhh Sam…….Dick,” he said slowly. “I pray for you regularly, keep it up.”

I couldn’t believe it – this dear man knew who I was and prayed for me. I had completely misread him. He turned out to be one sharp cookie, whose leading questions and wit blessed me the entire lunch hour. Henry and I were attending an annual luncheon for MB Mission’s long-term missionary alumni. Together, he and his wife Nettie had more than 50 years’ experience of church planting service in Europe and the West Indies.

I’m often amazed at the care and concern coming from those we call “senior citizens.” It seems to be a recurring theme for my wife Heidi and me. That conversation with Henry was no exception. It came shortly before Heidi began five months of chemotherapy treatment. Preparing to battle breast cancer had been an emotional roller coaster; a bit like trying to see the shore from the middle of the ocean on a windy day – in a canoe! At times, land appears but then it’s gone again, hidden by the swells.

Don’t get me wrong – we couldn’t do it without the consistent gifts of time, food, and attention from our friends and family. Still, how can a few moments in the presence of a sage so quickly put life into perspective? Somehow, many older people ‘get it’ – maybe not all the time, but age and experience have certainly refined many of these folks. Here’s what I think:

  • They understand how much talk is too much.
  • They know how to listen.
  • They know the exact moment to give you a squeeze.
  • They relate to your pain, sometimes without the need to divulge their own.
  • They look you in the eye, able to say the word “cancer” without fear.
  • They know the lingo associated with treatment.
  • They understand how to trust medical doctors – and how to wait for endless test results to return.
  • They know completely what it feels like to be reminded that life is fragile, a gift from God.
  • Most importantly, they tell you they are praying for you (often adding daily or throughout the night whenever they wake).

How can I thank them? They don’t seem to need it (even though I did call Henry today on the phone, it was my turn to pray for him). Embodying encouragement is what they do, quite effortlessly. Sages, this is my simple tribute to you.

Maybe you too are experiencing a season of life that crept up on you out of nowhere. It doesn’t have to be illness. Perhaps you are returning from a missionary post or have lost your job. You are in need of real encouragement.

So let’s not write off anyone based on the colour of their hair. Keep a look out for that touch of gray and strike up a conversation.

Let me know if you have been blessed by someone who walked the path you’re walking now? How did they help?


6 Responses to A Touch of Gray

  1. Sam,

    i am definately impressed. you have a gift with the written word. everytime i read your blog it is engaging and moving. don’t stop what you are doing. you bring me encouragement and joy reading your thoughts and your experiences. thank you for sharing

    maybe when we come through town next time we can sit down at city blends again and have a chat like old times.

    God Bless, we are praying for you guys too.


    • Kevin thanks for the encouragement. And thanks for reading, spread the word, I will do my best to keep things rolling. Of course look us up when you come through. Sam

  2. Sam, your words are so true. i have often been most blessed by those with “a touch of gray” And you’re right, they do understand the hardships that life can bring. They bring grace, compassion, and a mature love to the table. They have gone before us in their trials, asked the many questions that we toss around in our minds, and received the many answers that we wonder if we will be able to handle. They have allowed themselves to get better, not bitter out of their experiences and out of that gift that are able to share themselves fully with others. They wish that they could take our circumstances away, but know that they can’t. Instead that take away pain’s sting by offering us their love and their encouragement. But, don’t forget Sam, that you too, share in those qualities. You have an incredible gift of compassion. It’s obvious. And so, you may not have any gray hairs just yet, but you are a real blessing to many, I’m sure. Heidi knows that you are there for her, even when you don’t have all the answers. Your compassion and your love for her will add to her strength. Trust fully that the Lord love her and cares for her deeply and that He will provide everything else in this journey for the two of you and for your family.

    • Awesome comments Angie. I appreciate your words of kindness. I will have you know I found a gray hair just recently, I was wondering how many it takes to look wise. But then again perhaps it’s not in color of the hair. We may all go out and dye ours. Proverbs says, the fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom – let’s all go for that!

  3. Sam – your grandma, Phil’s Aunt Elfrieda was such a woman for me.

    The Lord has you and Heidi on my heart and so I pray. Keep writing. Keep returning your gaze onto Him.

    much love, Kim

    • Kim, great to hear from you!! Yes my grandma continues to amaze us all with her charm and grace. Thanks for popping in here. Big hello to Phil my favorite youth leader of all time from back in the day.


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