Monday is the Day the Lord Hath Made for Whining

I once had a small group of old lady friends who were attempting to learn Tai Chi in my playroom.  I had forgotten that my college age son was asleep in his bedroom off the playroom. He came out sleepily to what was not a pretty sight.

He nicknamed us the “Geriatric Ninja Turtles.”

We decided we’d be less likely to hurt ourselves or traumatize adult children, if we tried meditation instead. I had a Buddhist friend who had taught classes in meditation, so we asked him to instruct us. After a few weeks of sitting around with unzen like giggling by old ladies who needed help getting up from the lotus position, he obviously got discouraged or bored, so he decided to teach us how to fight by slamming our fists into someone’s temples, supposedly killing them. Since the tallest of us was 5 ft 2 in , we felt the odds were against our using this successfully unless we were attacked by a mob of homicidal “little people” or at least small-er people. (Besides this did seem a bit less than the spirituality we were seeking.)

So, we moved our meeting to the Episcopal Church Parish Hall and used the Book of Common Prayer along with the Bible for reflection and prayer. We had a new younger member, who one morning after praying, felt led to dance, so we all joined in. At that moment the rather staid Episcopalian Priest walked in. He was not led to join the holy dance.

Since it was Spring time,  we began meeting in a grove of trees with a picnic table and benches on one of our member’s land. We all felt God’s presence in nature and as the breeze blew dogwood blossoms down around us, it was tempting to dance once again in joy. But rather than traumatize the unwary and to avoid the slippery slope into a naked Wicca experience in the woods (which would definitely not be a pretty sight), our youngest member played her guitar and we just sang.

We chose to rename ourselves ” The Group that Meets on Monday or Sometimes on Wednesday with an Option to meet instead on Friday.” For some reason this never caught on, so we remained the “Geriatric Ninja Turtles.”

Our three core members now began to have some health and fitness problems. One of us had lost a leg, I had to use a wheel chair for walking any distance longer than about a block, and our eldest member had had a heart attack.

So we expanded our search for mystical experience into both art and pottery classes at a nearby center for the arts. We found both of these to be a right brain, stay focused in the moment activity, which is actually very zen like. I was too klutzy to use the pottery wheel, but went to help my friend who had some difficulty because of her prosthetic leg. In the moments she didn’t need me, I molded a naked plump old man sitting modestly with his legs crossed, but with a delightfully mischievous smile on his face. I was really proud of my accomplishment. I even felt a great tenderness toward my creation. But when I showed it to my son, he was horrified, because it looked so much like my husband.

Young people are so easily horrified.

One day after class, while following the wisdom saying for old ladies, “Never pass by a bathroom without stopping,” my friend said that her prosthetic leg was causing her some pain, so could she use the wheelchair and would I be able to carry her leg to the car for her. I said that I could manage it and I marched behind her with her leg held over my shoulder like a rifle.

We had learned long ago that if you don’t learn to laugh at yourself and at trouble when you are young, you won’t have anything to laugh at when you are old.

Our group felt that we should minister somehow to those worse off than we were, so we began to visit people in the nursing home and take treats for them. Unfortunately, it turned out the people we were taking delicious cakes and cookies were diabetic and then one day while chatting with a woman on oxygen, she began to look distraught and I realized that I was standing on her oxygen line. We decided perhaps we should find a ministry less hazardous to others. So, we started a Clothes Closet for the poor at the church.

Any group of women of a certain age tend to talk about their various ailments. In another of my groups, we gave a prize for the one with the most new parts. The woman who won had two new hips, two new knees, and a new heart valve.

In spite of the validity of our complaints, when visiting those in the nursing home and hearing them wonder why their family didn’t visit them more often, the GNT’s (Geriatric Ninja Turtles) realized that it was probably because this kind of whining constituted most of the elderly’s conversation.

So, we made up a Scripture to help us avoid falling into this trap. (I know. You’re not supposed to make up Scriptures…….but the Holy Spirit is still alive and well ……… and we were old, it was dark, and we didn’t know what we were doing.)

Our Scripture is: “Monday is the day the Lord hath made for whining.”

We felt this would be allowable because, after all, the Israelites whined their way across a desert for forty years. Obviously, God got tired of listening to their whining, but one out of seven days seemed fair to us. So, we had an addendum that said if you didn’t whine on Monday, it was a movable feast. You could whine on one other day that week – but only one. We have found that this definitely affects the amount of time younger people are willing to spend around us.

Old age definitely has its challenges, but the gold and the grace in it are friendships and laughter.

And when you think about it, what beats those?

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About Eileen

Mother of five, grandmother of eleven, great-grandmother of seven, 1955 -1959 Rice University in Houston, TX. Taught primary grades; Was Associate Post Director of Religious Education at Ft. Campbell, KY; Consultant on the Myers/Briggs Type Indicator; Presently part time Administrative Assistant/Bookkeeper for Architect husband of fifty-seven years. Blog: Laughter: Carbonated Grace

Posted on August 22, 2015, in B4Peace, faith, Gifts of Age, hope, Humor, Prayer, relationships, spirituality, Suffering and tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 11 Comments.

  1. Have I mentioned how much I enjoy your posts? You make me laugh — giggle, guffaw, snort, even cackle — with reliable precision. Henceforth I shall whine on Mondays. Or another day, if I can’t find anything to whine about on a Monday. But I shall restrict whining to one day and one day only. And if you (or any of the GNTs) have any more Holy-Ghost-communing experiences — and in the dark, too! — please feel free to share. I’ll be looking forward to them with giddy expectation 😀
    Guilie @ Quiet Laughter

  2. Wonderful idea, but I have a few questions. What happens if I slip and whine on two days? Do I become an ex- geriatric Ninja turtle? Or do you offer confession on certain days for people like me? And can I whine to God every day, if I don’t do it out loud? Luckily I live alone, so no one can hear when I whine. I admire your will power, though. And your blog. 🙂

  3. Your a great humorist as well as insightful writer. I cracked up so much. I’m a new fan. 🙂

    • I meant to type “you’re” and didn’t pay attention. Sorry for my early morning typos!

    • Thank you…humor is my escape from the disturbing realities of being 78. I’ve never had a fan before. How exciting that something that fun and new can happen at this stage of life. Beats hell out of reality. 🙂

      • I bet you have fans you don’t know about. You’re soooo easily someone to root for and enjoy. Thanks for expanding the discussions and views on the world. Your voice helps and it matters… and laughter is something we all truly truly need at every and any age… it helps break the ice to understanding and we get luckier in the joy we can share.

        The “disturbing” stuff age brings isn’t lost on all the young people in toto. I mean, I do care provision work (as do many of my friends) that helps elderly people as well as disabled people be as functional and independent as possible… and I love these people. They don’t horrify me. What horrifies me is the society around them that doesn’t take the time to be patient.

        I got nuthin’ on you. 🙂 You rock!

        • Love that you provide care for those needing it. That alone expands our minds and hearts. It also does some weird stuff to our sense of humors. My mom lived with us for seven years with what we now know was Alzheimer’s. But,finally she had to live in a nursing home for quite a few years. I developed a truly black sense of humor, but don’t think it would go over well with anyone who hasn’t had to deal with this sort of nitty gritty reality. Fun for me to find someone who “gets” my way of being in the world.

          • Well, I hope you keep writing the “black humor” and share it… because actually Alzheimer’s is one of the hardest degenerative conditions to face for families and friends and can be soooo scary and so it needs the venting in all it’s forms, maybe especially humor, no matter how dark.

            I have friends with family members suffering from Alzheimer’s too, and we found an art gallery-museum in Seattle that might be open to installations and that donate specifically to Alzheimer’s research and care.

            For those who don’t “get it” I just want to say “yet” because we will all face illness and death at some point. There’s nothing wrong with this part of the human experience and denying it or being “horrified” so we can run and hide, will only work for so long.

            I love your writing and what you’re teaching me. I absolutely feel blessed to have found your voice and humor. I needed the humor to keep doing my work. Thank you.

  4. My goodness! You are a blessing to me! I had knee surgery today and am a bit over the top “Happy” from the pain killers, so if I say something weirder than usual…..remember: “It is dark here right now, I am old, and I may not know what I’m saying.” 🙂 I’ve always kind of struggled with a need to help people spiritually, while suspecting that God created me for comic relief. I know that’s important. My humor has gotten me through a lot and I do know that it can give others a momentary lift. But my desire to be of a more long term help can sometimes become a self-defeating ego thing. Your last paragraph helps me hang in there attempting both purposes, while remembering that God can always use me as comic relief to trim down what may be more for my ego than for others or God. I do know from experience that God has a real talent for that kind of pruning.

    I have a particular granddaughter that reminds me of myself….the positive and the not so positive. Although she just turned seven, she has an wonderful quick sense humor. But as her older sister says: “The trouble with Bella is that she doesn’t have an OFF button.” Bella recently showed me that I have actually managed to pass something of value on.
    Last week, Bella’s mom told us that when Bella had been whining annoyingly all morning, she warned her she had had enough. Bella was not to whine any more that day. Bella considered this seriously for a moment, then asked, “What day is it, mommy?” Her mom started answering… “It’s Monday…..” Then, seeing Bella smile mischievously, realized she had been trapped by Nanu’s (mine) scripture adaption: “Monday is the day the Lord hath made for whining!”

    From the length of this comment, you can tell that I don’t have an “Off” button either.
    But I couldn’t help dancing with delight in my mind to know I have managed to pass something down to the next generation in my family after all!
    .

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