Tuesday, December 18, 2012

Adventures at the Home - Return of the Prayer Box

Last week my cooking group at the nursing home was just wrapping up when I was asked the usual question, “What are we doing next week?”  I really hadn’t given it much thought but knew I had to come up with something quick.  Out of my mouth came the words, “I think next week we will celebrate December birthdays and talk about the prayer boxes.  We did the prayer boxes last year and decided to make them a Christmas tradition.  Does anyone remember that?”  A few people said they did.

One lady who rarely talks looked me in the eye and said, “I still have mine from last year.”  Three other people acknowledged they still had theirs as well.  I stood there in amazement.

This week we talked about the prayer boxes and as like last year everyone loved it.  Below is my original post.

My cooking group at the nursing home recently celebrated Christmas. I took in a Christmas cake and egg nog at the suggestion of one of my assistants. It was a good suggestion – everyone loves cake and eggnog.

When everyone was served I started talking about Christmas traditions. I told them about our family traditions and the tradition Santa Claus started in our cul-de-sac. I them asked them to share their family traditions. There were about forty people and to my amazement many of them started talking. The assistant activity director came into the room and asked me, “How do you get them talking like that?”

“I ask them a question” was all I could come up with.

We heard about many time honored traditions. Then one of the residents said, “Jesus is the reason for the season." Another added, “Jesus Christ is why we have Christmas.” And yet another chimed in, “It’s Christmas, Ralph. It’s not the Holiday season.” The door had been opened and I stepped through the threshold. “That’s right.” I said, “and we must never forget that fact.”

I told them about the birth of Christ in the manger and many of the residents added in things – good things, meaningful things. Then I said, “Maybe it is just me but it seems a little odd that on the first Christmas the only one to receive gifts was Jesus. Jesus received gifts of gold, frankincense, and myrrh. No one else got presents. Mary didn’t get any. Joseph didn’t get any. For sure the inn keeper didn’t get any presents. Just Jesus. Yet today we feel we have to buy for everyone we know. Why is that?”

The room erupted in chatter again.

Then I continued, “But the Christmas story doesn’t end there. Thirty-three years later that little baby, Jesus, was a grown man who was crucified on the cross. There were no presents. Mary received no presents, the Roman guards received no presents, and Jesus received no presents.

No one was talking now.

Everything appeared to be okay so I continued, “Three days later God gave His gift to me, to you, and to the world. Mary Magdalene and a few other women walked to the tomb of Jesus only to find it EMPTY! God had given us the perfect gift, a gift no value could be placed on. The only perfect gift that has ever existed. So why do we search every year for the ‘perfect gift’? I don’t know. We already have it.”

Then I pulled out a one inch box designed to be a Christmas ornament and hung on the tree. I told the residents we could start our own tradition and transform that ornament into something more - a prayer box. I told them the box was bright and shiny, which represented the star the night Jesus was born. I showed them how the bow on top could become a cross with just a slight tug. Then I said, “But most importantly the box is empty. Do not open it. There is nothing inside – just like the tomb on Easter morning.” And with that I gave them each a prayer box.

I then asked them not to place it on the Christmas tree but rather to put it on their bulletin board, their nightstand, their window sill, anywhere they would see it daily and be reminded to pray.

One resident asked me, “How many prayers can this box hold?”

“None,” I replied. “All our prayers go straight to God. This box is to remind us to pray and the value of prayer.”

Several residents looked at me and smiled.

Then, one lady said in a very sincere and calm voice, “Praise Jesus.” Many residents nodded their head in agreement.

At the end of class a few nurses and other employees who had been listening from the back of the room asked if they could have a prayer box. One of my assistants asked if I had extras because if any of the residents lost it they would really be upset.

The prayer box is not the perfect gift – it just represented it.


Anonymous Anonymous said...

That is beautiful, Ralph---Merry Christmas to you!! Robbie in Tekamah

12:24 PM  
Blogger Cliff said...

Good to read this again Ralph. Glad to talk to you and hear about your new assistant.

9:38 PM  
Blogger Granny Annie said...

Wow Ralph, when you make a come-back you really come back. Great post and I am making my own prayer box today.

1:38 AM  

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