IT WAS A FROSTY AUTUMN MORNING IN THE BIG CITY. THE NIP IN THE air was felt keenly by the barefoot young woman at the bottom of the long double flight of wide hewn-stone stairs.
The woman looked up at the church she had known from her childhood. Though it was not the church of her own faith, she had attended musical concerts there during her early teen years. These memories were what drew her there now, for she was alone on the streets—by choice—and mourning the death of her young husband by his own hand.
The nights of alcohol and drugs hadn’t erased her pain, and now she found herself on the steps before this cathedral of her youth. She couldn’t remember how she got there, and as she turned to go, a kind voice echoed down to her from the open wooden door.
“Come on up, sweetie! We’re having Communion today, and we’d love to have you. There’s a meal afterward.”
Her depth of sadness and need drew her toward the kind woman in the pressed suit beckoning her to enter. Memories of happier days from yesteryear flew through her mind, and once inside she sought the refuge of the third balcony, where she would be left alone—or so she thought.
As the emotive Communion service began, all her fears melted away. People looked at her in her shabby street clothes, but most smiled and kept their thoughts to themselves. She relaxed and let herself flow into the meaning of the service. As heads were bowed and the time to partake of the “blood of Christ” drew close, tears began to fall silently down onto the young woman’s hand, where she stared at them in disbelief and relief. Her husband had been gone for almost three months, but until now, she hadn’t been able to cry.
She felt the presence of Jesus, and His loving arms encircled her mind and soul as she bowed her head and joined in the sacred ceremony of remembrance. Time and trouble vanished in her emotional release.
Many years later, the young woman, now much older, sat at the computer keyboard typing out the words she had waited so long to share. It seemed like the right time to submit the article, now when her church magazine had solicited “new” writers. She had a lot of stories to tell from her vast repertory of experiences as a street person and a former addict, so now she would begin. All the stories, however, pointed back to the kind person who had directed her toward God’s love that day of the Communion service. “The Sunday Preacher’s Lady”—that was the name she had given her, this woman who, through a simple act of kindness, changed the direction of her life and gave her hope and the assurance of God’s love and care. She would be forever grateful for her compassion.
“Lo, I am with you always, even unto the end of the world” (Matt. 28:20, KJV).
Melissa Walden is a musician, writer, and palliative hospice aid living in Keene, Texas. This article was published August 26, 2010.