About a billion years ago, I was asked by the stake to teach monthly Relief Society lessons at a neighborhood nursing home, and I have been doing it ever since. The first time I taught, I went prepared with a standard presentation, including a list of questions to engage my listeners. When I rolled out the first question, an elderly woman on the front row raised her hand.
"Yes?" I said, beaming with teacherly encouragement.
"My birthday is December 5," she said.
Which wasn't, technically speaking, the correct answer. But it was an insightful one--especially for me. I realized right then and there that I needed to come up with a different kind of lesson, one that we could all enjoy. And so I began taking in children's picture books and reading them aloud to the residents who embrace the stories and illustrations with utter delight. I visited this morning and attempted to read ORDINARY MARY'S EXTRAORDINARY DEED, although after a page or two I had to hand the book off to the pianist (aka my stunt double) to finish for me. BECAUSE I AM STILL WHISPERING.
Anyway. Here's what I want to say. All those years ago when I first said yes to this assignment, I had no idea my experiences with these residents who live mostly in the present moment because there is no other place for them to live would mean so very much to me.