Take my Grandma for example. At the time of this story, I think she had four kids. She was sick; that miserable "I-want-to-give-up-on-life-for-a-day" sick. I imagine her limping about, stuffy nosed, achy. When, to her horror, my Great Grandma showed up with an extra carload of kids, nieces and nephews, all needing a place to go for the day.
Crazy. Grandma was sick. And maybe it wasn't fair of Great Grandma to assume that she'd just take all those extra kids, but here is the life-altering thing for me. Grandma took them anyway.
Last week I got sick. The achy, "I-don't-want-to-leave-my-room-or-do-anything" sickness. And so did all the kids. As I walked up and down the stairs, cleaned up puke, supplied drinks, and cleaned bathrooms, my mind wrapped around that story from years ago. I understood it on levels I hadn't before. I understood Grandma in a way I never had; her character, the kind of stamina it took to do what she did. I tightened my mental grip around that memory and found myself thinking,"If only I can be like Grandma today. Just be like Grandma today."
Isn't that the true power of service? What we give when we are nearly empty ourselves? Everything became easier as the image of my Grandma occupied my mind. Somehow, even though she lives an hour away, we were in it together.