I went to the dentist today. I think I have twenty four crowns and eight veneers, so you might think that this is a scary visit every six months for my check-ups. Those of you who have been following this blog since the beginning know that I really dislike going to doctors. And even though I have had horrible luck with my teeth over the years, the truth of the matter is that I don’t mind going to see the dentist. And I am one of the few people I know who would much rather go to a dentist than a doctor, but that is the way I look at it. And I owe it all to a kindly old gentleman by the name of Dr. Perry G. Stordock.
You see, when I was young, Dr. Stordock was my dentist, and his assistant was Ms. Grace Lanning. His office was located on the 33rd floor of the Pittsfield Building in downtown Chicago. And during my exams, I remember I could look out the window and see the sailboats on Lake Michigan. It was so peaceful and beautiful. I remember almost every detail about our visits there. For example, the doors to the elevator were dark green, with an art deco motif on them. When we got off the elevator, his office was down the short hall and to the left. The floors in the hall were tiled; not carpeted. We rarely saw anyone else in the waiting room, and he had a private office, his dental exam room and another room I only saw once. Grace, as she wanted us to call her, had a desk and a file area, and always wore a white uniform with white shoes.
And, by, the way, did I mention that my mother always had us dress up in our sport coats, complete with ties, when we went down to visit Dr. Stordock? That was because we usually made a day of it and went to Marshall Field’s for lunch in the Narcissus Room after our appointments. And back in those days, you always dressed up to go to the doctor. Seems funny to me know, especially since I showed up this morning in blue jeans!
Well, I used to love my talks with Dr. Stordock. He was a tall, thin, bald, older man who seemed timeless to me. He was always asking me questions about school and the things that interested me, and always made me feel like I was the only one in the world. And when I was in his chair, I noticed that he had Rotary Club emblems from perfect attendance, year after year, handing on the walls. As a child, I was lucky to have good teeth. I never even had a cavity until I was in my mid teens, and when he filled that first one, it didn’t hurt a bit; and no Novocain. I really cared for him, and I am sure that was even strengthened by the fact that my mother used to hug him, and Grace, every time we went to the office for our check-ups.
Well, when I was eighteen, Dr. Stordock died. My mother cried and cried. Grace decided to retire, and I remember we went down to the office to see her once as she was cleaning out the office. And Mom showed me the obituary in the Chicago Tribune, and it started out, “Dr. Perry G. Stordock, 98, a practicing dentist, passed away ……….
Ninety-eight! Holy cow! I never dreamt he was that old – not that it would have made any difference. But that meant that he was 80 when I was born! And it finally dawned on me that Dr. Stordock had been my mother’s dentist her whole life! And if you do all the math, it turns out that he was already 51 when my mother was born. I still can’t believe this story, and I lived it. But what a kind, wonderful human being, and that, of course, reminds me of a Bible verse – Phil 4:5, “Let your gentleness be evident to all. The Lord is near.” Verses 6-7 go on to say, “Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.”
But tonight I want to focus on the “gentleness” part. Because Dr. Stordock reflected a total commitment to Christian values, led by a gentle Spirit. I never heard an unkind word come from his mouth, and he never rushed me, or anyone else, I ever met in his office. And he inspired loyalty; just look at my mother and her dedication to this great doctor. And, to this day, I think about him every time I go to the dentist. And for some reason, divine peace consumes me, and I am not anxious at all – in spite of all the problems I have had with my teeth in the years since he died. And remember those perfect attendance Rotary tags? There were more than 50 of them – perfect attendance for more than a half century.
So my encouragement tonight is that there is someone out there who is looking at you as a model of behavior. And perhaps, years from now, someone will be writing about you as I am writing about Dr. Stordock – by the way, he would be 137 years old if he was still around. That’s how long he has been impacting me, and undoubtedly, others before my time. And my prayer is that you will be kind, and gentle, and a great ambassador for Christ throughout all your years. And, of course, that the peace of God will guard your heart and your mind in Christ Jesus. Grace and Peace…..