Daily Encouragement August 22, 1999
My grandmother, Ruth Hahn Peters, was an inspiration. To inspire is to breath life into something. She breathed life into all of us who knew her adding to our lives an example of hospitality, of giving, care, overwhelming kindness to even the stranger and, most of all, her love for God.
She, her faith, and her spirit survived without a life spent in complaint the poverty and persecution under Japanese rule in Korea, sickness as a child which spared her but claimed the life of her sister, the loss of her homeland to communist North Korea, and various other serious illnesses along the way. All the while she rose above in faith in her Lord and loved her husband Dr. V. Wellington Peters, her family and others well.
She threw parties better than the rest of them.
When she passed away about a month and a half ago to live life more alive than ever we can on earth she left a legacy. A legacy of giving to life and not taking. Of cheering and not tearing down. Of love and not selfishness. Of inspiration.
She breathed her earthly last, but we breath on. Is our breath fuller and deeper because she in a way still breathes through us? God's given breath to her is now in me both physically and spiritually. My veins course with the breath of her life as one of her grandchildren. My spirit breathes new life because of her Saviour I accepted as my own and her example of a life well lived. May I inspire as she did.
For several years in the 40's my Grandmother was isolated in a TB ward. She wrote the following there.
" I want to see the girls in room 15, too," she told the kind nurse, and sitting up with feet tucked under a pink blanket, she came riding in on her cart.
I had heard of her, this pretty, red-haired girl on the third floor, but we met for the first time at Christmas. The nurse introduced her to Anny and me, and she greeted us with a friendly smile. There was a sweet light in her face, but a shadow of weariness, too.
She admired the little Christmas tree with its lights and shining balls which Anny's husband had arranged on the table. She also liked the poinsettias my husband had cut from the bushes in our garden at home. I had intertwined them among a set of seven electric candles on the dresser at my beside. They made me think of miniature red palms. I placed in their shadow little plaster figures of the shepherds with their sheep and the wise men and their camels all coming up to a brown stable where Mary and Joseph gazed down at a tiny babe in the straw.
As Jackie's appreciative eye passed to this little scene, I thought I could detect a wistful tone in the soft words: "Isn't that lovely? That's what Christmas ought to mean."
There was no time for more conversation, and the nurse rolled her cart into the next room.
After some time Anny and I heard she had moved downstairs from the tower to room two almost below us. Then we could see her more often, for the nurse would sometimes push her bed out on the porch. We saw, too, a fair-haired chubby boy of about ten coming once a week. He was often accompanied by a pomeranian which he called Cecie. The two would sit just outside his mother's screen door for an hour. At nearly every visit he sang to her, and his voice was unusually pleasing. Then as the sun went down behind the western hill and the gaunt eucalyptus trees grew dark against the glowing sky, he would throw kisses and call out cheerily. "Good night, Mama. Pleasant dreams!" Then he would run off alone, if Cecie was not scampering ahead.
Then one morning after the rainy season, when the purple of the lupines had faded from the hillside, I heard the nurses downstairs singing "Happy Birthday to You" when the breakfast trays came in. At the first opportunity I asked who was having a birthday.
"Mrs. Simpson," the nurse told us.
"Mrs. Simpson," I thought. "The pretty red-haired girl. I wonder if she knows how wonderful it is to have a spiritual birthday."
Christ has no hands but our hands
to do His work;
Lying month after month in this bed, I had thought there was so little I could do. Suddenly, an idea came to me. Hastily, I wrote a note on the prettiest birthday card I could find in my box. Then I looked at the lovely pink water lily which my husband had brought, floating in a round glass bowl. How glad I was to have it that day! I sent them all down- stairs by the nurse, and followed them with a prayer that God would speak through them.
No reply came from Mrs. Simpson. But for several days afterward as different nurses and doctors came in, each one brought word how she was enjoying the water lily. They said she kept it for days even after it had closed.
I sent several other lilies later on. Then one day a note came accompanied by a set of pamphlets, full of good cheer and sermonettes, well worn and marked.
"Take good care of them, " she said, "and let me have them back when you are through. My mother used to get them for me at Clifton's Cafeteria before she went away. Now I can't get any more."
Time passed. Christmas was coming again, and we were making plans for our candlelights and poinsettias and manger set. But this year we knew Jackie would not be among our visitors. We did not see her on the porch any more, and I thought the boy looked sad as he walked away each day.
On the first Sunday of December, as I was enjoying my devotional hour, God spoke and told me to write a note to Jackie. Fortunately, just the day before I had received several little things to give away. Among them was a luminescent cross with the words "Jesus Never Fails!" This I sent with my note.
I had heard Jackie coughing in the night and knew it would be hard for her to write. So I said I would not expect an answer, but I wanted her to know Jesus loved us and gave Himself for us and He cared when the long nights were dreary.
On Wednesday the nurse brought me a note written by a trembling hand:
You don't know how much I appreciate your lovely notes
I've been worrying about my boy, wondering what would
If it will not trouble you too much, will you please get
six more pictures of the cross for me to give away? I shall
I cannot write all I want to say because my hands are so shaky. It took me three and a half hours to write this. Thanks again and God bless you,
That night Anny and I could hear moaning. We knew Jackie must be worse. I lay in my bed and prayed that God would comfort her and keep her soul.
It was Sunday evening again, and the sun had sunk behind the hill. All was quiet in the room below. I looked out my window, and just then saw a dark figure rush out from her door and disappear across the lawn. Suddenly I was humming:
Some day the silver chord will break
As darkness settled, far away over the radio from some church came the strains of "Lead, Kindly Light." And though it was dark in room number two, I knew beside a fallen temple a cross was shining. Jackie slept peacefully that night, for the Kindly Light had led her into His presence. And on her cabinet still glowed the words "Jesus Never Fails."
If Jesus had not died and risen again for her and you and me, the night could never have been broken. But now--
Christ the Lord is risen today,
Ruth Hahn Peters
Los Angeles, California
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