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Written by R.W.Cothern   

June 1, 1953

Shut in by the sandstorms, I had passed more than a week reading---reading everything but the Bible. The tattered old bible lay on the desk gathering dust. Now if I had been fresh from a good meeting, I would have been sifting its pages with joy, but left alone this way, I seem to loose the urge. "Stir up their pure minds by way of remembrance'' the apostle said.

I sometimes wish I had a pure mind and some one to stir it up. So I would not feel so ornery.

Wife said "Why don't you get out and visit the sick" so I did. And the blunt truth is, I got more out of it, I fear, than the sick did. While she and some friends visited the big hospital, I went to the old folks Rest Home where a group of old men, though well cared for, are sick, tired, and very lonely. A few try bravely to be jovial, and enjoy a good joke, but most of them seem hungering for a stronger diet than humor. They are more apt to cry a little, when you lay a sympathetic hand on the gray old head; shake up their pillow; lift them up to rest their back; bring them flowers, or just hold to their hand and talk of pleasant memories

I made the rounds, the nurse came and told me that "Dr. Brown wants you to come to see him also, he is very frail now. I found him propped up in his wheel chair looking out the garden, and listening to an old dove that was cooing her heart out from the top of the big elm. He was a pale whisp of his former self and only his bright intelligent eye made me know he was still here. His thin bony hand refused to let go, after we had talked awhile--it held on desperately, like he held on to life. "I wish you would come to see me every day, I get so very lonely" he said. Trying hard to be cheerful, I rearranged his flower vase, added fresh water and fondled the big red roses, saying "Doc, I am by these like the old negro was by the dress they were buying for her. She said, 'law, honey, I don't care what color it is jes so it's red.' Aren’t they lovely? There is an old song we used to sing about flowers--you've heard it I know--goes like this-- (and I sang in subdued tones, the second verse, avoiding the verse that included "just a grave in the vail and a memory of me" to protect him) "As the life of the flower; be our lives pure and sweet; as we brighten the way of the friends that we greet; and sweet incense arise, from our hearts as we live; close to Him who doth teach us to love and forgive." "Those are sweet words, full of meaning, my boy, if you have not already learned to 'love and forgive' you will when you get to where I am" he said. "Well, Dr. its good to feel that our poor lives have been mellowed by time and trials--but I must go now, I must'nt worry you."

But that tiny little bony hand would not let go--I thought the tear on his pale cheek reminded me of a diamond--he said "I get so lonely, I need fellowship, I need...." and his voice trailed off into a sigh, as I turned to go.

It is nice to give flowers, time, and patience, even money to the sick, but my experience that day wrung from my heart the feeling that it is not enough.

Some had said "I want you to pray for me before you leave" and if that hurts you as it usually does me, you are apt to find yourself shunning them, rather than be drawn into such solemn and trying responsibility.

This caused me sleepless hours that night. How much am I willing to give. I too am lonely--there is so much that I need. I am unworthy of the sweet confidence of the dear old men down there. O its easy to give your money, your time, and your flowers, but are you willing to go that "second mile" and give the secret heart-throbs of your humbled soul--share that feeling of emptiness of soul, and fear of a just God. Yes, it is easy to visit, and say nice things. But oh can you get down--way down like the poor woman that washed Jesus' feet with her bitter tears, and dried them with the hairs of her head, and comforted these old people in the twilight of their evening? It is not money that the world is striving for. It is heart! Some of us don't seem to have EITHER.

May God help us to GIVE where it seems so sorely needed.

R. W. Cothern

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The Primitive or Old School Baptists cling to the doctrines and practices held by Baptist Churches throughout America at the close of the Revolutionary War. This site is dedicated to providing access to our rich heritage, with both historic and contemporary writings.