A 10 BY 14 CUBICLE

By: Darrelyn L. Tutt

My life intersected with Miss Sylvia some years ago.
Her home measured 10 by 14; a little cubicle in the local Nursing home.
She was in her 80’s when I met her; raised as a single child during the difficult, defining years of the depression; never married, no children.
Sylvia understood the word alone in a more clear-cut manner than anyone I’d ever met.
I loved her.
~~~
I’m in a local Walgreen's to pick up a prescription; 
browsing while I wait for it to be filled.
I want to shop but my checkbook says no.
My number is called, pick up my prescription, and ready to head out the door and “Sylvia” lodges herself in my mind.
“Make a purchase for Sylvia.”
This little voice.
I hear the words and think …. Maybe another day.
No money, no time, no Sylvia.
Need to get home, get work done and supper on the table.
But this unrelenting voice gets louder.
“Make a purchase for Sylvia.”
I’m irritable but under conviction; head to the lotion and fragrance aisle.
Goal: Silence the conviction. Get home.
Grab some lotion and perceive, somehow, it’s not the right gift.
“Get her a teddy bear.”
The prompting again.
Experienced this nudge before. It’s real. 
It’s the Holy Spirit.
 I make an attempt to quiet Him.
Head to the children’s aisle and … Bingo!
The teddy bear has Sylvia’s name on it. It's perfect.
Purchase it with no funds in my checkbook but I know it’s right.
Drive home. Thinking about supper.
Meal is eaten; kids are late for youth group.
“Bring the teddy bear to Sylvia.”
The voice, again, that will not be shaken.
I’m tired of thinking about Sylvia and the “gift” thing.
Just want it to be done. Obligations to tend to.
I relent, grab a gift bag, and stick the teddy bear inside.
Drop the kids off; head into town to the Nursing home.
My attitude is bad.
Irritable, tired, if it wasn’t for this desire to “still” this unrelenting voice I’d be at home getting work done.
~~~
Sylvia is sitting on the edge of her bed.
Wearing a too big, soft pink sweater on her tiny fragile frame.
She looks so … dejected.
She’s staring at the floor, peering through crooked and smudged lenses.
Give her a hug.
She’s so happy to see me.
Face lights up; she spots the gift bag.
“Brought you something, Sylvia, hope you like it.”
Not prepared for her response.
Opens the bag, clutches the teddy bear like a mother would an infant, rocks back and forth, and cries.
And then the words,
“Who told you? Who told you?”
I’m confused.
“Who told me what?” I ask.
Sylvia speaks, “Today is my birthday; somebody remembered me; always forgotten.”
Emotions wash over me like a wave.
Can’t comprehend this thing; question whether Sylvia is confused.
Go to the front desk. 
Dates are verified.
Sylvia’s 85th birthday.
Sit on the bed beside her but she’s all wrapped up in the teddy bear.
We read scripture together, pray together.
She's fixated with the gift.
My presence isn't needed.
Time to go.
~~~
Sit outside in the car and cry.
Cry over my selfishness, business, and … irritability at God’s voice.
I’m ashamed of myself.
Ask God to forgive me ….  help me be a better listener; better responder.
Overwhelmed by God’s grace to me.
Overwhelmed that He chose to use a hard heart to love a beautiful one.
Overwhelmed by second chances … and a teddy bear.
~~~
The teddy bear became a permanent attachment to Sylvia from that day forward. 
Brought him everywhere; even hid him during bath-time.
At her funeral several months later the coffin was open, teddy bear inside.
I cried.
Still do.
A 10 by 14 cubicle, an elderly friend, a teddy bear and …
the voice of God.
Grace.
~~
If God has put something on your heart … do it.
Don’t wait, don’t question, don’t reason it out.
Listen.
Respond.
Be blessed.
~~~
“Withhold not Thou thy tender mercies from me, O Lord; 
let Thy lovingkindness and Thy truth
continually preserve me.”
Psalm 40:11