I have been lucky enough to live next door to Mrs. Ethleen Tingle for nearly twenty years. It seems as if Mrs. Tingle (Who could ever call her “Ethleen”?) is the aunt, grandmother, or cousin of nearly everyone in our little town. She is one of the most vibrant women I have ever known; the fact that she’s 97 makes her even more remarkable.
Mrs. Tingle has a luxurious head of pearly white hair, and these days is a bit stooped as she walks. When the weather is nice, Mrs. Tingle strolls up and down her driveway. She calls it “Taking her exercise.” My mother would have called her spry. She sits outside to get vitamin D, she maintains a bird feeder and bird bath, she writes cards, she gardens, and she plays her piano every day. You get the picture. Through the years, my children have made it a point to go to her house and show off Halloween costumes, graduation gowns, Easter outfits, and new haircuts; they never come back empty handed – always a few cookies or a piece of cake in their hands.
Of all the things I’ve learned from my abiding friendship with Mrs. Tingle is this: Everyone has their own journey. Along the way it is inevitable that we will experience sadness, affliction, failing, sorrow, betrayal, grief, or disappointment. These experiences are not surprises, but an expected part of the human condition. So what is to be done?
Mrs. Tingle’s theology is simple; she doesn’t get bogged down in the details of who deserves help or mercy or forgiveness. She knows that “God is love. Whoever lives in love lives in God, and God in them” (I John 4:16). No dilemmas, no angst: God is love. I am lucky to know her and to benefit from her years of contemplations and engagement with people. I feel as if I got to “look at the answers at the end of the book.” The answer is “Choose love.”
Susan Ryan, Ed.D.
Professor of English and Education
Pray that the Point community will honor our sameness in our shared humanity, that we will cherish our individual and collective journeys, and that we will live in love.