Lent 2012 – Path of Restoration
by Barbara Duffield
We all do it. We step onto an elevator with someone we don’t know, and suddenly the display of the passing floor numbers becomes fascinating. Or the shoes on our feet draw our attention, or . . . well, whatever we can look at besides the other person in the elevator. The ride might only take a few moments, but they are long moments when you are with someone you don’t know and don’t necessarily care to get to know.
Such was the case a few months ago as I was leaving the hospital after visiting a friend. That day the other person on the elevator was a woman who looked extremely tired – that “I’ve been here in the hospital for too many hours and too many days,” kind of tired. I was investigating my shoes when she burst out, “My father’s in here and I don’t know if he is getting out. I can’t spend every minute here with him like he wants; I have a family and kids of my own. I can’t get him to understand that.” I looked at her, knowing she was in pain, but not knowing quite what to do with it. So I asked her father’s name. She said in a rush, “It’s Ed, and he’s in here after a heart attack. They had to replace a valve and open blocked arteries, and he looks so old and tired and he wants me to be here all the time.” Then, as quickly as she had opened up, she leaned against the wall and closed her eyes, not saying another word as the elevator continued to descend,
As we neared the bottom floor and she opened her eyes again, I said that I remembered the days of visiting my own father in the hospital. I know how hard it had been for me to see someone that I had always depended on as an old and frail man. Her eyes filled with tears and she nodded. As we reached the bottom floor and stepped out of the elevator, she turned and said, “Thank you for talking to me.” I was about to say I would keep them in my prayers when I heard myself ask, “May I pray for you?” I was shocked that the words had come out of my mouth, and I knew it had to be God speaking. She gasped and quickly took my hands in hers. “Oh, would you please?” she asked.
We stepped off the elevator and moved to a nearby corner sheltered from the hospital’s front doors. I took her hands in mine and we prayed. In that blessed moment, however long it was, not one person came to get on the elevator, nor did anyone step off. Although in a public area, we were completely alone for the time we needed to be. As the prayer ended she looked at me for a long while and said simply, “Thank you.”
We walked out the front doors together and, as she turned left and I turned right to go to our respective cars, I realized a moment of restoration had just occurred. For that brief time, we were a Body of Christ that had been brought together in an elevator and held in the arms of God.
Barbara Duffield is a member of St. Matthew’s Episcopal Church, Universal City TX. Reach her at firstname.lastname@example.org or leave a comment below.