Going Up, Going Down

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 barbara.duffield@dwtx.org or leave a comment below.



10 thoughts on “Going Up, Going Down”

    1. Thank you Barbara; I think the secret is being willing to listen for God’s whisper because I can promise I couldn’t do anything like this without it. I really appreciate your kind words and thank so many who have gone before for teaching me this lesson. I’m still learning it but it’s a great help in doing it.

  1. Barbara, that sound so much like you and I know that you were a tool for God at that moment in time. Thanks be to God you let him use you for the nice lady in the elevator and gave her his blessings. I am sure it really helped her.

    1. Charlene, you are a love and I thank you for the dear kind words.I wish I wish I could take credit for it but I truly do know that it was God orchestrating the whole thing. I’m grateful to have been a part of it. Blessings to you, my friend!

  2. What a lovely story and a brave act on your part. Plus the description of how one feels on an elevator with a stranger is descriptive to the point that I could place myself in that same elevator.

    1. Thank you so very much for your kind words. I am convinced that it was God and not I that orchestrated that entire event. That being said I am also convinced that I got at the very least as much as she did from the moment. Blessings to you.

    1. Cynthia, I take that as a great compliment from you. I have admired your work for a long time and value your opinion. I certainly know that God arranged and handled the entire event; I was the blessed person to get to share in it. Shalom to you, my friend.

  3. Whew – thanks for sharing that Barbara –and for be willing to be a “fool for Christ.”

    1. Betty, I love your phrase, being a “fool for Christ.” Haven’t heard it in a long time and I would like to be able to be that more often in my daily life. Thank you so much for your kind words. Peace to you during this holy Lenten season.

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