My aunty Judy is a heroine of mine (one of many incredible and strong women in my life). She is an example of a life poured out in love for those around her. She is a district nurse, working in rural north Yorkshire in the North East of England. I heard a story about her recently which inspired me and challenged me deeply.
I found out that Judy was visiting a certain patient of hers, who has a severe and chronic airways disease, unable to even leave the house due to her level of breathlessness. Judy went to this lady’s house and had never seen such squalour. The lady was too disabled to do any cleaning herself, and therefore none had been done for ten years! So, on the following day, when Judy could have been a having a well deserved rest, as she already works well over her allotted hours, she went and cleaned this lady’s house from top to bottom. The “system” had turned a blind eye to this lady’s needs, but Judy knew fine well that with the amount of dust and fungus in the house, this lady stood little chance of improving her breathing at all. No extra pay, no thanks from the lady, but rather a disciplinary hearing from the management powers, for going beyond her remit! But the lady now has a clean house, because Judy was willing to be a toilet, forgiving the system for its failings, cleaning up the mess and releasing more life in the process.
To embrace kenarchy is to embrace humility.
But when she’s not nursing, she is caring for children with severe mental and physical illnesses in her own home, to give their parents some respite. And when she is not doing this, she is often trekking halfway across Europe to help her eldest son who is setting up an eco-backpackers place in Bulgaria! And amongst all of that she cares deeply for her 4 other children and their families and her own mum, my Nanna, who’s health is seriously declining. Talk about going the extra mile!
Yet she has learnt the secret of rest and refilling in the midst of it all so that she doesn’t burn out. She has found the secret that God is really with her as she serves others. This is where God is found – with those who are in need! She has learnt about unforced rhythms of grace.
No job is too small for us, no person too unclean to be embraced and no task is beneath us. This is the kind of love that transforms the world.