This blog posting is dedicated to the memory of Jane Huang and in honor of Dr. Pete Huang.
Some years ago my husband and I joined a Sunday School class. The members of the class were all in their 80s and 90s. They had grown into maturity together over the course of many years.
We visited one Sunday and were greeted so warmly we felt we had arrived home. When one of the ladies told us it was so good to have “young people” in the class, we knew we had found heaven. We had entered our 60s and had been feeling old!
It was clear from the beginning that this group was different. Nothing seemed to throw them off balance. As various crises befell them, they weathered each storm and somehow came back even stronger.
They began every class by singing the chorus of the song, “Turn Your Eyes Upon Jesus.” (Words and music by Helen H. Lemmel 1922).
“Turn Your Eyes Upon Jesus.
Look full in His Wonderful Face.
And the things of earth will grow strangely dim,
In The Light of His Glory and Grace.”
I have never felt such Peace as I did, standing in the midst of that chorus of unified living saints of the church. Their voices seem to blend into one. And there was a glow on every face.
One by one, many were promoted to Heaven. Yet, as we sang on Sunday mornings, it seemed as if they were still there. We were all still joined in The Presence of Jesus.
They enjoyed a potluck once a month. Shirley, the President of the class brought flowers and set the tables. She then assured everyone had anything they needed or wanted. She never ate until she made sure we were all taken care of.
Since they had been doing this for a long time, it was already well established who was bringing what. It was a regular rhythm of life that brought comfort and joy.
When the dishes were cleared, they were taken to the kitchen to be washed. Pete was the chief dish washer, a labor of love he had faithfully carried out for years. It was an honor to dry dishes and be with Pete.
Pete also had another very important role. He was the husband of Jane. Jane was a beautiful lady. When we first met her, she looked us over and seemed to be studying our faces intently.
But mainly she kept her gaze on Pete, her beloved husband of many years. Even as other class members talked with Jane, her eyes would cut away for a quick glance at Pete.
We had enjoyed several months of potlucks before we realized that Jane did not talk. Jane had Alzheimer’s Disease.
However, her lack of responsiveness never changed her friends’ response to her. They talked to her. They incorporated her into group conversations. They held her hands. They hugged her.
They knew her. They loved her. They remembered her, as she had been and as she was then.
Pete’s Love for her was apparent in everything he did. He brought her meals to her. He helped her with her coat. He talked to her with great respect.
Pete’s every move seemed to come from a sense of gratitude instead of loss. Even as life had dealt them what seemed a cruel blow, they still had each other.
We came to realize that the reason we initially did not notice Jane’s challenges, was because we saw only what her husband and friends saw. They saw Jane in The Light of Jesus’ Face, as His Precious Creation … nothing more … nothing less.
My mother told me a Great Truth long ago. She said,
“Carolyn, your mind is like a chest of drawers. Today you are in charge of what you put there. The day may come when someone else opens those drawers and all they will find is what you put there. Be sure it is only good things.”
We, who never heard Jane speak, still heard her, through the echos of those who had been the recipients of her love. When we observed her life, all we saw was love.
May we all fill our hearts and minds with Love for today and as a legacy to all who will follow.
The group ended each potluck by holding hands and singing the song, “Blest Be The Tie That Binds.” (John Fawcett 1782)
We changed the last stanza slightly to fit what we all knew then and what I celebrate today with great joy.
“When we asunder part,
We surely will have no pain.
For we shall all be joined in Heart,
And plan to meet again.”
“I thank my God every time I remember you.”