Tuesday Thoughts: Little Things Lost and Found, Strawberry Jam and Mustard Seed

Matthew 13:31-32

The Mustard Seed and the Leaven

31 He put another parable before them, saying, “The kingdom of heaven is like a grain of mustard seed that a man took and sowed in his field. 32 It is the smallest of all seeds, but when it has grown it is larger than all the garden plants and becomes a tree, so that the birds of the air come and make nests in its branches.”

Jesus focuses on the importance of small things growing into eternal things like the Kingdom of God.

She is one of those people that causes us supposedly “normal” people to avert our eyes and wonder how to react. She is in a nursing home, she is old, and she has speech problems possibly caused by a stroke, dementia, or a related illness. For privacy reasons, let us call her Bathsheba so no one can easily identify her, although I suspect she would not mind everyone knowing about her feelings for strawberry jam!

It strikes me more and more as I visit my husband who is in the same nursing home as Bathsheba, that we do not always focus on what people lose when they are placed in rehabilitation and nursing homes. Things like health, privacy, and in many cases the ability to speak, maintain their own bodies, and sometimes even the personalities that define them as the custom-made person that God created.

Or do they truly lose all of their personality and memories? A small happening in the jumble of days made me remember the parable that Jesus told about the grain of mustard seed. My husband David’s room is near the woman that we are calling Bathsheba. One day last week he asked me to bring him a big breakfast from McDonald’s, which includes pancakes and strawberry jam. He sat in his chair spreading strawberry jam on his pancakes while she happened to be passing by in the hallway. The packet of jam was visible from the hallway, but the flavor of the jam remained a guesstimate or just imagination.

Bathsheba knew right away. She does not always speak coherently, and her actions are sometimes a mystery. Her reaction to strawberry jam left no guesswork. “I love strawberry jam,” she said as clearly as a McDonald’s commercial.

Who knows the nature of her memories of strawberry jam? Maybe she remembers its smell and taste from her childhood when her mother made it. Maybe she made it herself for her family. Maybe she sat up late at night after her family had gone to bed and ate toast and strawberry jam.

Whatever the memories of strawberry jam and its importance to her, she squeezed it out of the larger scope of her life like emptying a paper packet onto a pancake. Even when drastic changes in life essentials like health and well being seem like a granite cliff, there are still loose stones and mustard plants growing out of cracks in the rock. Life always has grains of mustard seed that can grow into mustard plants and with God’s help, can be processed into fragrant mustard.

In the meantime, Bathsheba will receive some strawberry jam, with God’s promise of His kingdom.