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New Poem - Old Man

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    New Poem - Old Man

    New Poem – Old Man

    With some background to the content of this poem – we live in a historic Roman Catholic town. My daughter volunteers at a local nursing home. (This is not always as helpful as it sounds. The first day they asked her to paint residents' nails, and Michelle's faltering fine-motor skills rendered ladies' knuckles painted red! They modified, so Michelle would be “in charge of removing last week's nail polish.” However, she does not return lids to bottles well, so the remover spilled all over herself and the floor. Slippery floors and nursing home residents do not make a good combination. The staff mobilized! Somehow they let her volunteer there anyway.)

    Most recently, Michelle assisted during the praying of the rosary. Not Roman Catholic herself, this was new to her. We have since learned that various Protestants such as Anglicans and Lutherans pray a modified version of the rosary to assist in personal devotions. She enjoyed the slow, methodical, and prayerful movement through the beads. I provide all of this background, because she references this in the poem.

    And with some background to last Thursday – the day she wrote this poem – my daughter Michelle, with a tested I.Q. of 75, autism, schizophrenia, and assorted medical conditions, often finds herself isolated even in homeschool groups. This happened last week at our Thursday homeschool swim session. While she usually plays happily with two girls who have known her for years, things changed yesterday. A new girl arrived. The family plans to come every Thursday. Michelle's friends played with the new girl and shunned Michelle. This stung. I attempted to console her, distract her, even become a companion for her myself, all to no avail. After all, she is an older teen now. These efforts do not work so well as they did when she was 6. Instead, Michelle walked around slowly in the vast pool on her own. I swam laps, keeping an eye on her. When I finished, I chatted with another homeschooling parent. I noticed Michelle. Still alone, she gradually grew more placid. She came to me. “Begging your pardon,” (this is how she speaks), “I have a poem brimming in my mind that I need to bring to paper.” I gave her permission to leave and find a pen. With some editing for clarity and form, this is what she wrote:

    Old Man

    See yon man, bowed and bent.
    See Him laid, yon crucifix.
    Pipes are played, a hymn is sung,
    Now that hour is sundown.

    Wine in cup, and blood on tree,
    Hunger for the rosary.
    What Christ has done for you, for me,
    Pains He shed, bread borne for thee.

    The old man bowed under the Law,
    Born under cross and curse.
    But this Man – who knew no sin
    Knew the pain, strikes and marks sin would bring.

    Justice came and paid the cost,
    For those He came; He saved us all.
    He did what justice demanded,
    All paid for our release!

    This Man's body broken by sin,
    Broken by judgment we stand chagrined
    (to bear upon ourselves yet groaning,
    to beg for God's tender mercy).
    The lash He suffered once for all
    and to His Father obeyed His call.
    Judgment exchanged for Peace.

    This old man lies stiff and cold,
    Soon twill be but dead and old.
    One day, though, it shall rise to the skies
    In God's Banquet Hall, everlasting life.

    by Michelle Lynn Swope
    (c) Michelle Swope. 2013. All Rights Reserved. USA.

    After typing the poem for her, I watched her beam to see the comforting thoughts in print. I said, “This might never have been written, had you not been shunned by those girls. God makes good things come from bad.” She smiled and clapped her hands.

    We can watch for even little ways our children can serve other people or explore their own abilities, as this helps keep them from becoming too inwardly focused or discouraged. My son has no gift for poetry, but at 6'1”, he gives good hugs. He gently embraces the older ladies in our congregation every Sunday. “Just a minute, Mom. I need to give Mrs. Roth her hug.” He walks around her portable oxygen tank. Yes, we can wait.

    Blessings to your own children, especially in those trying or heartbreaking moments, such as my daughter experienced last week.

    As for this Thursday's swim session, suggestions are welcome.


    Just beautiful. She has an amazing talent.

    As for the swim session, "hugs". That is so painful. Perhaps the new girl could be introduced to Michelle by her old friends? It is so hard to be left out even if you are not different.
    The Homeschool Grads:
    J- 6/96
    S- 11/98

    Still Homeschooling:
    G- 4/04
    D- 5/05
    F- 7/08 (my only girl)

    Future Homeschooler:
    M- 9/16