Emma was eighty-nine years old, and when you asked her what she did for a living, she answered cheerily, "I take care of old people." She lived in a dilapidated two-story frame house in a poorer section of Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, where she had taken old people in off the streets.
At dinner time Emma would tug on a little angel figurine tied to a piece of twine that rang tiny bells on the second and third floors. Then her dozen or so tenants would slowly descend the stairs in twos, helping each other come down safely to the dining room where they had a nice meal that Emma had prepared for them.
These folks were castaways of society--homeless, rejected by their families, jobless, and hopeless . . . until Emma adopted them so they wouldn't starve on her doorstep. Emma cared for them with her own money and what little money they had, never asking for help from anyone else. In truth, most of the tenants were younger and in better health than Emma.
Emma and I were friends at church, so I went to her house for dinner one night, and I found myself wondering, Would I be as generous and kind as Emma is? At eighty-nine Emma could have decided she had earned a rest and sat easily on her front porch rocking away the rest of her life. And no one would have criticized her, because we have bought into the unbiblical concept of retirement. Ease. Comfort. She could have chosen to be an old person, too, but she didn't. Instead, she chose to become hope to the hopeless, joy to the joyless. She was the vibrant Christlike rainbow in their storm-clouded skies. And they loved her dearly.
Some people are storm clouds; some people are rainbows. Each of us gets to choose which one we want to become. Emma was a rainbow. I wonder, what are you?