I was doing my thing at the nursing home, preaching my sermon, singing the old songs. In the middle of the chorus of one song, it hit me. Turns out I wasn’t quite over the stomach virus, and the rumbling presence in my belly decided it wanted to make a quick exit.
Luckily I kept it together to the end of the song. I offered the benedictory in record time: “The-Lord-bless-you-and-keep-you-the-Lord-make-his-face-to-shine-upon-you-and-be-gracious-unto-you-amen.”
The weakness of the flesh is quite insistent sometimes, even for us holy guys.
So I’m bolting for the door, thinking I can just make it out of there without something happening that hasn’t happened since I was a kid.
But a little lady used her wheelchair like a cop uses a car to block the road. Fine. I tried the the catch-and-release handshake trick that you have to do when you’re moving fast through a crowd.
But she wouldn't let go.
“I need to tell you something,” she said with the urgency of an old woman who needs to say something while she’s still alive and can still remember.
I couldn't brush her off because I saw she had a legitimate need. But I also knew I was a goner. I wished one of my pentecostal friends had been there to do a miracle of healing.
In the name of JAY-SUS, I command you to to come out of him, you demon of diarrhea.
No wait. Command it to stay put for just a little longer.
"Do you have just a minute?" she asked.
“I wanted to tell you,” she said, “that many years ago, my daughter died.”
“Oh?” I said sympathetically, but thinking, I can't last much longer....
“Her boyfriend beat her to death.”
“Oh no!” I said more sincerely.
“While we were singing today, I could feel her with me, and she was singing with us.”
This was important. I was interested. Dear Lord, keep my bowels intact for a few more minutes.
“I just needed to tell you that and to thank you,” she said, and she teared up.
“Thank you for telling me this,” I said more slowly. “May God bless you and keep you.” And I touched her face. I wanted to kiss her cheek, but I had never met her before and besides, I might still have been contagious.
I left the nursing home and did a quick stiff legged walk to the car. I decided I had waited this long, I might as well drive the five blocks home and use my own bathroom in my own home.
I was back at the nursing home today, and I saw the woman again. She was different this time, staring blankly into space, her mind locked away behind worn out brain cells. Maybe she really hadn't been able to wait one more minute to share herself and her daughter with me.
I feel better now, but honestly, I’m still trying to process the moment I almost missed as I was trying to get away.