When I think about my childhood Sundays I don’t remember the alleged fights about panty hose and shoes that didn’t fit right. I remember Strawberry milk and a doughnut and a big church van. I remember seat-belt checks and knocking on the door of Ms. Mattye Bowman and asking her questions the entire ride to church.
And I think about how my dad treated each person we picked up on our way to church. How he would call the men “boss,” even though I was quiet sure they didn’t work together- and how he would assist the women only if they wanted it, never rushing them. How he never robbed a single person of their dignity when he offered out his hand. I didn’t know it then, but my dad was a Plainsman.
I believe in the human touch, which cultivates sympathy with my fellow men and mutual helpfulness and brings happiness for all.
I’m older now.
Half the world away, and I walk to church- I walk almost everywhere. But I haven’t forgotten those rides to Fairview, or the lessons I didn’t know I was learning at the time
So this week when the widow scoffed at our offer to help with housework I wasn’t offended. Pain can hide from every body part except the eyes-
When she rambled off instructions in Romanian, pointing and charade-ing around I smiled that much bigger. Fear can make you mask a lot of emotion-
And when she insisted we hurry because she would be cold sitting in the kitchen waiting for us to finish I winked to our translator. Lonely can look like a lot of things-
As I dusted and washed and swept, I wondered.
I wondered what stories she would tell me if we were to walk to church together one Sunday. I admired the photograph on the wall- the one that when removed revealed the original wall color perfectly preserved behind the only art to adorn the house. Her wedding portrait.
I prayed for common ground.
We finished, not without her input and final instructions of course. And when she sat on the bed, we joined her. She wasn’t expecting that, she wasn’t prepared. But when hope is lost, hurt is rarely prepared for anything but more hurt.
Kari Anna took her hands and held them..
Gently, but with promise-
Then we learned, she was a nurse…
Just like Kari Anna.
They sat hand in hand, talking medical…
I stared at the wedding photograph.
And as I stared and imagined the vows she pledged on that day, I witnessed the creed lived out. Human touch brought about healing of unspoken hurt. Touch that offered dignity and autonomy.
As often as my flesh makes me stumble, in that moment and the ones to follow I couldn’t help but think it a wonderful thing.