08/25/2019     I woke up about quarter to five.  Thanked God for being alive to enjoy the grey-blue-cloudy day and tried to find words to say.  I’ve been spending a lot of recliner and porch time thinking about faith, belief, and the what’s-out-there world around me.  Like static interference on a 1950’s TV and aluminum foil, move the “ears” to clear the picture efforts so Matt Dillon’s fast draw to begin “Gunsmoke” could be enjoyed sans the squints.  Always a mess of squiggles called “to-dos” pressed against “wish I could do that”.  A memory’s been around quite a bit lately, a pop-up on the desktop brain littered with iconed ideas and unused, should-be-deleted, unnecessary stuff.

Some time ago, I finished work at the church, closed up and headed to the lot.  A mid-size, red car sat near mine, a young woman behind the wheel.  Her head sagged and disarrayed hair hung in tangled bangs over her eyes.  Hands held the wheel at 10 and 2, knuckles a bit white.  I noticed a lot really, the times worrisome news of shootings, run-aways, accusations and the like.  Hesitant steps took me to the open window and “Everything ok, miss?” and “Can I help with anything?”

“I just need some peace to think, some quiet.  Could I come inside and sit in the sanctuary for a little while?  I just need quiet.” Her voice strained, tired.  I opened her door and walked inside with her.  She slumped into a back pew and I asked if she needed to talk.  Hands folded, she rambled about this trouble and that worry, about a child or was it an absent father – perhaps it was a death or a big argument with loved ones.  Cannot recall as the time passed and I think she settled as quiet took control and the sit became the simple answer.  Perhaps an hour – or just a few minutes.  I don’t know.  She rose, “thanks,” and was back to the car, inside, and away.  Hair still akimbo as windowed wind grabbed loose strands and twirled them into a farewell.

I do not remember well because that is NOT the way the event happened.  Oh, it all began the same, the walk over, the questions, the request.  Actually, “No, we can’t go in, I’m just done work and have to (fill in the blank).  There’s nobody here and I can’t let you go in alone.”

“I won’t be long – you can go.  I’ll close the door when I leave – I’ll be sure everything’s closed up.  I just need some time.”

“I’m sorry.  I just can’t let you stay alone inside – you know the times and all and I don’t know you.”  And she started the engine, slowly – sadly – pulled away. Hair still akimbo as windowed wind grabbed loose strands and twirled them into a farewell. I did not know the story. The hauntings of what it could have been have hung on the edges of my mind ever since, a cling of “what if” and how a chat with our Lord might have helped.  But I was off to somewhere other than staying, other than reaching out a hand to do God’s work.  It was and is a bad specter of my human-ness in days when so many people seek answers that only prayer might bring.  That only a held hand might stir.  That just a word or two might ease.  I, too, drove off that day. Probably purchased a Mountain Dew or grabbed a burger at some fine dining establishment.  Or just went home to finish the nothing I didn’t get done the day before.  I was just so busy with (fill in the blank once again).  Cannot be redone.  Or undone.  I turned away a young person in need.  Maybe just needed to have a roof for a few minutes.  Or a sense of security.  Or know the wrap of Christ’s hug.  A sanctuary for a moment’s peace.  Two could have gathered in His name and He would have come –

But I kept the door locked.

submitted by Dave Smith