by Debra Vernon
A new year has come upon our community. Gone are the harried and fretful days of 2020 – the year that changed us. COVID became the grim reaper, and new phrases and known words became sinister – social distancing, flattening the curve, quarantine, curfew.
Family gatherings were impacted, as well as worship. “Can’t have too many people in the house; someone may be carrying the virus and pass it on. Can’t have worship in person for the very same reason”. The usual joyful gatherings were postponed or canceled; in hopes we could come together later.
On December 1st, I took my nativity set to the church to set it up on the altar table. Others were there decorating the church for Christmas. And oh, how beautiful it is when decorated with trees, bows, wreaths, and poinsettias! It adds to the beauty of worship itself! At the time, we did not know we would not meet again in person prior to Christmas. But COVID became rampant in the community and among the congregation, and services were canceled, perhaps even into the new year. I remember thinking to myself, “the nativity and the church were so beautiful this season, but no one saw it”.
And then, COVID took something most precious from our community – Larry Patterson. A man with a heart of gold who lived out the love of Jesus each and every day of his life. And oftentimes, no one saw it.
Baking cakes and pies and gathering the bounty from his garden to share with others; no one saw it. Showing up at the nursing home to shave men unable to do it themselves, and to just assist the hard-working staff; no one saw it. Hanging around afterward and perhaps helping feed them their lunch; no one saw it. Picking up food from the grocery store and delivering it to the food pantry; no one saw it. Giving money for kids to go to summer camp because their parents could not afford it; no one saw it. Having a pocket full of candy on Sunday to give to the kids; no one saw it. Visiting the sick and the shut-in to just sit down and talk and help them if needed; no one saw it. There are many things Larry did, and no one saw it. He was love in action – he was not doing it to gain accolades or praises. He was doing it to show God’s love.
And more often than not, he was joined by his lovely wife Denzal. Those two were like two peas in a pod. Where you saw one, you most likely saw the other. Such givers of love were this little duo! A mighty force in action! And perhaps their most endearing acts were the love they showered on the children of their church and their community. Hundreds of kids have claimed them as grandparents over the years and consider them family. And they are right; it is not blood that makes a family, it is love. Denzal will continue this legacy and I ask you to pray for her as she navigates life without her sidekick of 64 years.
In the coming months, we will probably come to know many of the things Larry did, as some things will not get done. We will pause to ponder why not, and then realize this; it is because Larry and Denzal always did it, and no one saw it.