Saturday, June 11, 2011

In the Nursing Home and Everywhere Else: To Be Called By Name

This afternoon I drove in the rain to the nursing home where our School of Community does monthly charity work. Two friends joined me. As we gathered in the recreation room to begin games of trivia with a half-dozen residents in wheelchairs, we noticed someone missing. Where was that sweet 90-something widow?

I panicked: perhaps Elisabetta had died since our last visit. It was impossible to imagine such a thing: she had vivid blue eyes, her wry humor and her adorable English accented from her native Italy. "Elisabetta" had grown up in the Province of Udine near Austria and Slovenia. She immigrated to the United States,  raised four children with her husband and worked as a seamstress. Where was she?

I told  Cheryl, a staff member, that we were searching for Elisabetta. Is she okay? Could she join us? I was relieved to learn Elisabetta was just fine. "I will let her know you are looking for her," Cheryl told me. A few minutes later, Elisabetta was wheeled in and she was beaming. I joked with her  - how could she not show up when we were visiting? Didn't she remember us? Still grinning, she explained she'd been busy knitting in her room.

All of us spent a beautiful hour today, trading jokes and laughing together as we played the trivia games. When it was time for me and my friends to go home and the residents to begin dinner, I thanked Cheryl for fetching Elisabetta. 

"When I told her 'they are asking for you by name,' she was so happy," Cheryl told me. Her comment provoked this thought: Don't we all long to be called by name?

In the following parable Christ tells us He is the gatekeeper and we are His sheep, called by name.

"He who enters through the gate is the shepherd of the flock; the gatekeeper lets him in, the sheep hear his voice, one by one he calls his own sheep and leads them out.When he has brought out all those that are his, he goes ahead of them, and the sheep follow because they know his voice. They will never follow a stranger, but will run away from him because they do not recognize the voice of strangers."

Today's events made me realize that Elisabetta and I and my friends and hers are companions on the journey to our destinies. We can call one another by name and we need not be strangers to one another.

Father Luigi Giussani writes: "The testimony of those who have experienced this value is very beautiful: “I continue to do charitable work because all of my sufferings and all of theirs have a meaning."


  1. It's true, being called by name takes everything to another level. Being witnessed is a powerful thing, and being loved this way. Sweet story.

  2. This is so beautiful... companions, calling each other by name, as the Lord Jesus calls us each by name.

  3. Oh I had that Fried Green Tomatoes movie moment remember when she comes to visit her.....a real tear jerker!

    You are as special as they come.....I love their stories of how they came to America and first start, how they met the love of there on!

    Thank you for sharing Gods love with others!

  4. Hi, I was so impressed by your Summer Spectres poem that I started jumping around your blog, and I love it. You have such a beautiful message to share about the Lord and His love for each and every one of us. Thank you, this is truly lovely. So nice to meet you!

  5. Eden: Nice to "meet" you here and thank you for your kind words.