A story is told about a frail, old man who went to live with his son, daughter-in-law and young grandson. Every night, the family ate dinner together, but because of the old man’s shaky hands and blurred vision, he had difficulty eating. Peas would roll off of his spoon and he almost always sspilled milk on the table as he tried to take a drink. His son and daughter-in-law became very frustrated and decided to have him sit at his own table in the corner where they would’t have to deal with his mess. Because the old man had broken a dish or two, they gave him a wooden bowl to eat out of. One night, the old man’s son noticed his boy playing with some wooden scraps, and he asked him what he was doing. The boy answered, “I am making a wooden bowl for you and Mommy to eat from when I grow up. The boy’s parents were speechless and in tears. From that moment on, the grandfather ate at the table with the rest of the family, and somehow the messes he made never bothered them again.
As I get older, I occasionally find myself being more clumsy and drop things I never would have dropped before. I can’t imagine what it would be like for my friends and family (especially my wife) to feel the need to isolate me because of my old-age failings. We need to remember the words of Paul the Apostle, in Ephesians 4:2: “Be completely humble and gentle; be patient, bearing with one another in love.”