Wisdom shows up in many ways. It’s easy to think of wisdom as mere “wise thoughts” coming from a guru in an ivory tower. Jesus challenges common views in Matthew 11:19 with profundity—The Son of Man came eating and drinking, and they say, “Here is a glutton and a drunkard, a friend of tax collectors and sinners.” But wisdom is proved right by her actions. (emphasis added)
Wisdom is expressed, or vindicated, through our deeds.
This week I received the description (below) of this vindication of wisdom from our former neighbors, Frank and Rhoda Astone. When we moved to the area, the Astones lived two houses down from us. We became friends, studied the Bible together, and they were both baptized. Today, Frank leads our family group. Soon after meeting them, Wyndham asked Rhoda how their daughter’s condition affected her faith and view of God. Rhoda insisted, before continuing conversations, that we watch a video of what it meant to have a child with Rett’s syndrome. This was the beginning of our deep friendship. Their daughter, Kelly, is nearly 30 years old and can do no more than a small child can do. She can’t walk, talk, use the toilet, etc. But, she can love and be loved. The Astones are inspiring examples of compassion and self-denial. We have learned much from them, and without words, from Kelly.
Each week, Frank carries Kelly from her wheelchair to a seat in the auditorium where we meet for church.
One day last year at church my friend snapped this picture. This particular day, I was recovering from a horrible 2 month long virus and could barely hold my head up. Kelly must have felt similarly. We both leaned on “wisdom.”
Here is Rhoda’s description of Wyndham’s wisdom. I find it convicting and inspiring:
One who has unreliable friends soon comes to ruin, but there is a friend who sticks closer than a brother. (Proverbs 18:24)
When thinking of wisdom from Wyndham, I think of his gifts of empathy and love. He has been with us through some of the most painful times in our lives. For example, at 7 years old, Kelly was rushed to the hospital while having her first ever seizure. She stopped breathing, and we were asked whether we wanted her intubated—put her on a breathing tube. The hospital called Children’s Hospital in Boston, and they decided to send a team to pick up Kelly. At this point, the door opened and there stood Wyndham, Jeanie, Carl, and Rebecca (Christensen). Wyndham and Jeanie stayed with us until we were ready to leave the (Lahey) hospital and travel to Children’s Hospital. Before we left, an emergency room nurse came and said, “Mom and Dad, come kiss Kelly and say good bye before she goes to Children’s’ Hospital.” She left the obvious unsaid, “in case she doesn’t make it.”
At Children’s Hospital, Wyndham stayed with us while Kelly, still unconscious, was having test after test— trying to determine what was happening. It was about 3:00 am when the doctors suggested we all go home for a while and rest, because she was stable, although still unconscious. Wyndham supported us by being with us…by sharing our pain and by loving us. His presence made the unbearable, somehow bearable. He showed us God’s love.
This same experience with Kelly happened 2 more times, maybe 3, at Mass General Hospital when she was admitted for what was supposed to be a week for surgery. Everything that could go wrong, did go wrong. At one point, Frank was with Kelly who had been rushed to ICU when she stopped breathing after another seizure which, prior to this surgery, had been controlled for years. I was praying, but I was angry, exhausted, frightened, and so anxious. I thought, ‘Lord, I can’t do this anymore. There’s too much pain.’
The door opened, Wyndham came in, and I just sobbed. Again, he got another emergency call and came immediately. I never knew who called him, but was so grateful when he came. He showed us God’s peace.
Kelly came home from Mass General three months after her surgery in a full body cast. Wyndham came by when we were trying to figure out how to wash her hair. Frank and Wyndham lifted her onto the kitchen counter and we washed her hair in the kitchen sink. It was a three-man job, or maybe a 2 man and 1 woman job. Because she had been so sick, Kelly was very weak and had no head control. We were very crowded around the kitchen sink, but were able to get the job done. Talking to her, holding up her head, and shampooing was a great team effort. Wyndham showed us God’s humility.
Frank was often invited to play basketball or football with Wyndham and the gang, and afterwards Wyndham would help Frank as he came into the house limping, sometimes joking, and sometimes not. Wyndham showed us God’s friendship and humor.
Wyndham also has such a gift of loving and caring for people. He loves all of our kids, and they all love him. Wyndham showed us the meaning of God’s family.
Wyndham used to come to our house every morning and carry Kelly onto the van for her preschool program. That’s just who he is. Wyndham showed us God’s character.
When I see Wyndham in his wheelchair, I see courage and strength.
I don’t believe that God ‘gave’ Wyndham his illness any more than I believe that God ‘allowed’ Kelly to have her illness. In my humble opinion, I believe with all my heart that God loves his children with a love that is immeasurable in human terms, and that He feels our pain, wants to dry our tears, and rejoice in our victories.
Wyndham is still Wyndham. His light shines through.
Thank you dear Rhoda. Okay, I cried big ugly alligator tears reading this. I hope this description helps paint a vivid view of a vital aspect of wisdom—our deeds. May we all be wiser.
________________________________________________________________I could fill a daily blog for years with wisdom I have learned from Wyndham. However, I’ll stick with one day a week. Each Wednesday I will share wisdom gleaned, not just from me, but from our family who saw him day and night and from friends near and far whose lives he has touched.
Many of you have already told me you wish to share wisdom you learned from Wyndham. If you wish to contribute to this collection please email me at email@example.com with the subject line—Wednesday Wisdom. If you wish to receive these blogs in your inbox, feel free to sign up to follow the blog.
I’ll look forward to meeting you here on Wednesdays. And if you would, please remember us in your prayers. It’s a privilege to have you in our lives.