Posted by: smstrouse | October 5, 2013

Why Pastors Smile


Some time ago I wrote about Roger, who lives in a “healthcare facility” (I guess “nursing home” developed a negative connotation, so we changed the name). He’s been physically incapacitated for many years, but still retains a sharp, intellectual and inquisitive mind. We talk about everything from politics and current events to religion and philosophy. And of course – pawnbroking.

Roger’s PhD thesis back in the 80s was entitled “Pawnbroking and the Working Class in Victorian London: 1850-1914”.  For reasons I won’t go into again, he never received his degree – a regret that has haunted him more and more in the waning years of his life.

With a degree eliminated as a possibility (not through lack of trying), the publishing route opened up. CreateSpace, a self-publishing arm of Amazon, was the perfect solution. And as soon as I submit some final details, the book will go up for sale on Funds for the project came from the church and others who have come to know and love Roger.

The main thing I know and want to share about all this is the dramatic change in Roger’s face today from his downcast look as I approached and asked how he was doing to – of all things – a smile! And words I don’t think I have ever heard from him: “I am so happy.”

Roger is almost blind; he can barely see his name on the cover. I read him the introduction that I wrote and the blurb on the back cover written by a member of the congregation who teaches at the University of San Francisco – who also helped with the publishing process. He shook his head several times and said, “I can’t believe I’m an author.”

I showed the book to the volunteer at the reception desk, who was duly impressed. Roger was beaming. He asked if he could keep the copy I brought so he could show it to his chess buddy. “Of course,” I said, “it IS Yours.”

All that’s left to do now is plan the book release party. I’m hoping that many friends and church members will come and celebrate with this wonderful man, who deserves some happiness in his life.

His one regret, he said, is that his wife isn’t alive to see it. She was an integral part of his research and his biggest fan. He still misses her dearly. I hope that somewhere in the great beyond she is smiling with Roger too.

The bottom line is this: it’s for this we are created – to care for one another, to help one another find meaning in life and fulfill our deepest hopes and dreams. It’s not often we can actually do this or know we’ve done it. Often, we can barely help ourselves find meaning. And good luck with the hopes and dreams.

But it does happen. And sometimes we even know it at the time it happens. And it feels oh, so wonderful.

Today I’m happy because Roger is happy. No, not because I’m hopelessly co-dependent. But because a wrong has been righted; a dream has been fulfilled; a long effort by a lot of people has come to fruition.

And because Roger is smiling.


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