Courage at Sunset

Posted by on Aug 25, 2013 in Courage, Extraordinary Everyday People, His Love | 4 comments

sunset 1


“Courage is grace under pressure” Ernest Hemingway


“Be strong and courageous. Do not be afraid, for God is with you; he will never leave you” Deut. 31:6


Sometimes courage seems to appear in sporadic doses while at other times a daily dose of courage is the only way to face the day. Until recently I thought courageous people were born courageous and that courage flowed from them anytime a situation called for it. But recently I’ve witnessed the loveliest demonstrations of courage in unlikely people and in unlikely places. Courage is always noteworthy. Courage inspires.

My friend Lilly lives in a skilled nursing facility, where in my opinion, she doesn’t really belong. Our paths crossed a couple years ago when I was visiting a family member. She stands out from the others who live there. Most residents are either bedridden or in wheelchairs but Lilly can be found upright scurrying about connecting with people most every day. Her passion is people, whether they’re residents or visitors. She prays for the sick and encourages the downtrodden. Her faith is the driving force of her life. She lives to know her faith has influenced others and craves affirmation of that fact.

Lilly doesn’t see herself the way others see her. Externally she appears to be confident, gregarious and lighthearted. Internally she questions herself. She pushes back resentment for being placed in an environment where she doesn’t belong. She’s saddened to reside in the waiting room of death alongside roommates who don’t have the ability to communicate with her. She’s lonely for family and purpose. Her circumstances suggest her influence is over and she’s been forgotten. It takes tremendous strength and courage to face each day with the smile she wears.

Courage is often an internal force we choose to draw from when circumstances demand it. It’s kept alive by a deep sense of hope – by desperation really. Other times, courage claims a circumstance spontaneously like a firefighter who runs into a burning building. Afterward we look back and marvel at its behavior.

Courage isn’t always obvious or cloaked in a uniform. The daily courage Lilly taps into is rooted in the awareness of her own need. Isolation can weaken the ability to recognize courage and threatens its demise. However, courage can be cheered on by friends who understand and love authentically. Care and nurture fan the flames of courage, especially in the sunset hours of life.

Celebrate courage in someone elses life today. Be courageous yourself by claiming your own hope and sharing it with another.

Lord, grant me grace to ground what I do in acceptance of being yours. Place my actions in the stillness of your courage.


  1. Truthfully, I have always admired your courage. Life giving words once again 🙂

    • I hope I’ll have the gracious courage my friend Lilly has when the sun begins to set in my life. Thanks for visiting my blog today. I appreciate you.

  2. I worked for a short time in a convalescent hospital when I was a very young girl. The experience has stayed with me all these years for two main reasons.

    I was working the day President Kenny was assassinated and witnessed the horror, sadness and disbelief that registered on each face, staff and residents. The staff tried to continue their jobs, comfort the residents as best they could and the residents who were normally quiet and lonely were even more withdrawn.

    Although I was newly married, I had not yet experienced much of life’s upheavals and disappointments. Working there, I learned quickly that I was poorly (emotionally) equipped to cope with the sadness, despair and loneliness that was happening around me every day. I was disciplined by my superiors for catering to the residents and would go home every night wondering where their families were. Why didn’t they come and visit? And when I returned some mornings to find one had passed, I cried and internalized the sadness until I thought I would have to quit or it would destroy me. Those feelings stay with me to this day.

    Because of those memories, the first thing that came to my mind as I read the second paragraph of your blog; was what a blessing Lilly must be to those who have such limited or no contact with family or friends. My heart went out to Lilly, who I thought should have been able to live with family but I also rejoiced on how God puts people in our lives to enrich the quality of our existence.

    Sometimes we wonder, “why me Lord, why is this happening to me” and the answer may be, ‘it isn’t about you, it’s about (fill in the blank). Often blessings require a sacrifice, just as God sacrificed His Son, Jesus, to bless us. But it still hurts and my heart goes out to Lilly.

    Lord, thank you for the “Pat’s and Lilly’s in our lives. I know their reward will be great in heaven. Bless them and prosper their hands as they are quick to do Your will. Amen. Chris Burrow

  3. Bless you for sharing and for the tears you shed for the ‘too often forgotten’ living in nursing facilities. It’s not easy to be there and you’re right, many family members shy away from visiting because it’s hard. I’m grateful to know Lilly, she’s an inspiration.