My last post was a short n sweet tale of my golden-haired Molly and her coming to see that TRUE GOLD is in CARING, as she did by letting her locks be taken for children with cancer. More than with any previous blog, that one had many writing to thank us for the sharing of how Happiness is not found in the Marilyn Monroe- looks but in what comes from within to ease the burden of others. St. Francis of Assisi said, “Only that do we take with us in the end!”
One of my dearest childhood friends, Cindy Mattey Rager, was just as proud of her own golden-headed Lyndsey Grace. Only put atop her locks a bright red ribbon, as this radiant beauty bore so valiantly from the age of 2 the tortuous illness of Type 1 Diabetes. Having spent so many years of my life working with sick children, i found countless whose diabetes spread to their souls in a devastating and paralyzing depression. But, on occasion you would come upon “Amazing Grace,” those whose suffering so led them to empathize with even the least suffering of others, that they learned to live to lift their sisters and brothers in any way they could. A “golden girl” like Lyndsey thus put into practice one of the most tried n true of proverbs, “Help your brother steer his ship across the stormy sea, and LOOK! Your own has reached the other shore!” Lyndsey was so absorbed, so POSITIVELY, in the care of another, that she could forget about her own misery.
Her mother was one of the bright lights of my youth. There was another who was not always so bright; though interestingly, his name was Ray. Ray Parnell was one who slunk into the dark of drug abuse, so much so that one night he actually DIED of an overdose. He was the first person i ever met who had that out-of-body-experience. And he confided in me that he even met the Lord, who then sent him back “to try again” (like that guy Phil in “Groundhog Day.”) Ray told me it was because he’d never done anything for anybody. “Even with my head hanging low,” Ray said, “I never even noticed a sparrow.” Well, he sure put an end to that, striving every day to REALLY BE THE RAY he was born to be, not in big ways but in tiny everyday offerings of self for anyone needy in his path – from sparrows to people. AMAZINGLY, this happened only for a short time, as Ray was called back to heaven about a year later, a very different, very peaceful man.
i started to scribble out a play back then – for Ray and many other souls whose lives were taken early. Based on that thought of St. Francis, i imagined various “heavenly homes,” sad empty shacks now the homes of once rich, but selfish, folk and great, glorious mansions spiritually built of lumber – AND GOLD – of each act of kindness and generosity, especially when they were made of substance rather than of surplus.
Lyndsey Grace Rager was taken from us at age 22, but can you imagine the awesome beauty of her home now, knowing that this young lady “never knew a stranger” but rather did everything she could to make this world kinder, fairer, better. Grace and her trusty dog, Gracie, lived to bring comfort one warm, loving act at a time. It is for this reason that a 20-room house has been set aside in her hometown of Fort Myers, Florida, as a shelter for women and their children in any need. In tribute to her “heart of gold” it is called The Lyndsey House. (You can contact “fortmyersrescuemission.org” or “www.lyndseyshouse.com” if you wish to join Lyndsey in any way in her neverending love…)
The Lord told my buddy, Ray, “Sorry, sir, but there’s nothing for you here yet. You’d be so lost, as you’ve never invested in heaven’s business – which is Love.” But, there a young lady of 22 was like a wise old veteran! So well practiced in the heavenly art of compassion.
In years and years of Bible study i don’t think there was a lesson so memorable to me as the one where i learned the original Greek word, which described Jesus’ feeling towards those he found in need. Like when he saw the great crowd so full of hurt and hunger, “like shepherdless sheep.” Or the time he told the rich young guy what he had to do to follow Jesus, and the Lord had tears of sadness in his eyes, as he knew the boy would not be able to leave the “riches” for true wealth. Or the time he told his tale of tales, the one about “the Good Samaritan” who, unlike the priest and the Master of the Law, truly cared for his “brother human being” until he was healed. In such times as these a big and funny word pops up – try to say it, it sounds just like what it means – SPLAGCHNIZOMAI! “HIS GUTS EXPLODED!!!” How many times does the sight of someone less fortunate JUST RIP YOUR HEART OUT? Well, this was the daily life of a goldilocks from Fort Myers, who so built, board by board and brick by tiny spiritual brick, her mansion in heaven. Lyndsey House will live on hopefully as its tiny reflection on earth, and her hands will be replaced by many many others who will be lifted up out of themselves by the memory of Lyndsey Grace!
i repeat: just google LyndseysHouse.com
3 thoughts on “LYNDSEY GRACE”
Thanks, Mike. You make word-songs of inspiring people and confounding miracles that turn hurt into healing, exclusion into empathy, and suffering into service. How we need to hear them. Keep singing, brother. -Jim and Carol
What a beautiful tribute and accurate description of my dear cousin Lyndsey Grace. She and I, although separated by 10 years in age, were very close. I was in Mexico when she passed, living there for a year with my family. I remember very shortly afterwards I randomly found two things I took to be messages if her that she was ok and was still with us in spirit- almost like she was giving me something….like she was saying “Here Janna these are for you.” In her giving nature as you so beautifully portrayed. It was a little flip-flop pendant- which was totally her- and a tiny Buddha. Honestly, I have NO idea where they came from; they just appeared in my house. Later I found out that she had loved the Buddha. I didn’t know that- I don’t know how I didn’t. But it was definitely her. It is so fitting that there is now a Lyndsey’s House. Now she can fit so many more people than she did when she was here- when she would invite homeless individuals to sleep in her apartment. How great is it that displaced women are being helped in this manner through Lindsey’s House. Thanks!
Thank you, Janna. So many people have little Buddhas lying around. They make great knick knacks, especially the little fat, smiley one. But Lyndsey obviously LOVED and UNDERSTOOD the Buddha and his “NonAttachment” to things. Things are nice, but their real beauty is found in their being shared, given away. Lyndsey knew the wonderful FREEDOM of Loving! i’m sure that she will pay you many many a visit!