It was an unusually warm day in the middle of October as I approached her home, nestled in a little manor near the south side. I quickly noticed the buzzing of the cars zooming by off of Interstate 69. I could hear the neighborhood commotion surrounding me and the fresh fall leaves crunching under my feet as I walked up to the front door. What I was greeted with was a beautiful woman, full of knowledge and wisdom, just looking for someone to share it with.
One of the perks of my job is constantly getting to meet new people from all walks of life. I love to hear how our work is changing lives. This woman, in particular, just received a new roof. She has lived in her home for 23 years, and it’s all she has left.
Over the excitement of two yapping little dogs, I got to know Miss Jo. I was captivated by her stories of the small little farm in which she grew up on the moment that I sat down. Being an outsider while listening to the realistic trials and tremors from someone else’s life truly adds perspective. I started to close my eyes and picture the America that she got the privilege of growing up in – all the way back to the Roosevelt years. We talked family, politics, pets, and a few other things, but what I walked away with was so much more.
Yesterday, I went back to see Miss Jo. We’ve become friends. She instilled in me how important it is to not lose sight of touch, true beauty and family.
“Touch people. Don’t be afraid to touch them. We [elders] sit in these houses day after day after day. The dogs are awesome to touch, but they can’t carry on a conversation. And it’s not human. They’re not a human hand, a human being, just to touch you. Spread it out to the older people because you don’t know that may be the only touch they’ve ever had in months. A warm hand. It’s cheap and it’s so easy to do and it’s so needed. So needed. If only people would just get back their love.”
She encouraged me, by her love for God and by her faith to find the good in people. A struggling woman with a heart bigger than the size of Texas is still giving all of the honor to God, even throughout the trials that she’s faced. She stressed the importance of hard work, which is scarce to be found these days. “Life is so short,” she said. “Enjoy the privilege of being able to work. You don’t know what it means until you can’t do it any more.”
As I listened to this woman, I started to realize what the true meaning of beauty was. It was found in the wrinkles on her face, as they told stories of precious memories passed. It was told in the depth of her eyes, as she longed for company and a desire for human interaction and touch. I couldn’t help but feel guilty for all of the materialistic things that come to mind when I think about beauty, or how many times I’ve reached for my phone this week to text, not talk, with a friend.
This meeting with Miss Jo was a perfect reminder for me. It brought me back down to earth. Back down to simpler things. Back to the meaning of love, interaction, feeling, and face-to-face conversation – what God meant it to be.
1 Peter 3: 3-4
“Your beauty should not come from outward adornment, such as elaborate hairstyles and the wearing of gold jewelry or fine clothes. Rather, it should be that of your inner self, the unfading beauty of a gentle and quiet spirit, which is of great worth in God’s sight.”
Beauty really is in the eye of the beholder.
As I was leaving and we parted ways, Miss Jo told me this:
“God has blessed me. If I never get another blessing, I’ve been blessed.”
What I hope she knows, is that she has blessed me.
She is more precious than rubies; nothing you desire can compare with her. Long life is in her right hand; in her left hand are riches and honor. Her ways are pleasant ways, and all her paths are peace. She is a tree of life to those who take hold of her; those who hold her fast will be blessed.