October 28, 2013

Searching the Obvious

As rainy days go, this one happened to have the brightest sunlight.

* * *

It’s a Sunday morning, and I have errands to complete. Amid a hazy drizzle I sit at the stoplight noticing the buildings surrounding the square where my next stop, the grocery store, is located. At the opposite end of the store is a nursing home. I know that nursing home. Just a week ago I received an e-mail from my friend Lynn, who had placed her uncle in a retirement home. She asked if I could keep him in my prayers. As the light turns green I make an illegal U-turn and head toward the retirement home.

At the reception area I ask to see Henry, and a nurse walks me down the hall. She asks how I know Henry. I explain that I’m a friend of the family. I don’t really know Henry. She points me toward an open door. If the Holy Spirit has inspired me to visit Henry, it must be for a reason. What is that reason?

There he is.

He sits in his wheelchair, looking out the window, deep in thought. I am almost tempted to step quietly away from the doorway. In a slow, careful motion he turns his gaze away from the window, looks at me, and smiles. “I know you,” he smiles. “Come sit with me.”

I glance around the room and see a small desk with a chair. I move close to him. We have a bit of small talk in which he shares how blessed he is to be in a good retirement center. They care for him. He is at peace and has a beautiful view to the garden from his bedroom window. As I look into his blue eyes, he becomes more familiar. I remember him from Lynn’s graduation, and the day when friends gathered to move Lynn into her new apartment. He seemed stronger then. He wasn’t in a wheelchair then. He was vibrant and made us all laugh then. Time has passed since I last saw you.

When the small talk ends, he looks out the window again, in silence. Should I leave? He begins to talk again, still gazing out the window.

He tells me that every day he walks with God. There has been much loss in his life. His wife and daughter passed 15 years ago in a traffic accident. It was a challenge to help raise his two nieces, Lynn and Beverly. Six years ago Beverly died from cancer at age 28. He pauses for a moment. There are no tears, no break in his voice. He is calm. He tells me that the easiest thing for us is to try to search for reasons that things happen. “It seems important for us to understand, right?” he says, breaking his gaze and looking at me for a moment. “What must be important for us is to daily, constantly, walk with God.” He tells me that for all he cannot understand, God has provided comfort and peace.

As he stares out the window I take in the honest beauty of his words. I ask him to tell me about his walks with God, and he points to the desk where the Bible rests. I bring it to him, and Henry opens it to Genesis 5. He reads, “ ‘And Enoch walked with God: and he was not; for God took him’ ” (Gen. 5:24, KJV).

“That’s all we know,” says Henry. “But to walk with someone, every minute of the day—that makes the relationship special.” I glance at Henry’s wheelchair. He walks with God. This is a spiritual walk. Just as Enoch walked with God, Henry is in constant dialogue with his Savior, Redeemer, and Friend.

I look out the window; the rain has dissipated, and the sun is creeping through the clouds. Henry tells me it’s the perfect time to walk outside and find a nice sunny spot in the sidewalk by the garden. I push the wheelchair outside, recognizing the importance of this “errand.” I don’t know if this visit was more meaningful for Henry or for me, but I was grateful for the opportunity to share this walk with Henry—just the three of us. n