Wednesday, May 24, 2006

Medical Closet

We have a medical closet that Alfred Hitchcock created before he died.
It is located in the basement of the church. Everyone knows what lurks in the basement of any self-respecting church.

Doom and Evil, that's what. Cold, damp breaths from hell seep up through the cracks in the cement, that's what, too. Half-dead spirits that are still floating on the fence that separates salvation from nefarious living death. They moan and rock, crying out their indecisevness .

These creatures take the form of aluminum walkers, they disguise themselves as bedside potty chairs and canes. Squeaky wheeled wheelchairs are the sneakiest. They stay folded up when under watchful eyes, and then they self-open and roll when the lights are off. I know this to be true. I managed the medical closet for the first year of this job. Thinking it a huge honor, I boasted to passers-by- "Hey! I'm in CHARGE of the Medical Closet!!" "How about that!!" I never wondered why the staff tended to hang their heads and skulk away during those moments. I assumed they were envious that I was given such a big responsibility as Medical Closet Minder when I had just started the job. Silly me. Silly, silly, me.

I took inventory my first visit to the dungeon and neatened the arrangement. A few days later, I checked on our equipment and was taken aback. Where two potty chairs had parked there now stood 5! and we had a wheelchair missing. The canes had hooked up, too. The shower stool laid on its back with all four legs reaching for Jesus. It was a mess. I searched the building and finally found the wheelchair. It sat neatly folded and well hidden behind a palm tree that sits next to a window that overlooks my office alley. The brake had jammed itself into the carpet. Was it watching me? Was it keeping an eye out in an effort to help the others escape?

I can't say. But I can say this- If these seemingly benign items wreak this kind of havoc in our welcoming church environment, what must they be capable of in full fledged hospitals and nursing homes? We give out warning cards when people check out the items from our medical closet now. Who knows what evil lies in the rubber stoppers of walkers on the loose?

Short spots

Short spots

I don’t understand religious etiquette sometimes- communion
Is it still a valid communion experience if you use pre-blessed elements? And what exactly constitutes pre-blessing? Is it something that can be faxed? Spoken over the phone to a customer buying juice in the grocery line? Or is it a “you have to be there” kind of thing? I have no idea.
Where would one purchase such pre-blessed products? Costco? Sams? Cokesbury?

Sexual ethics-sexual harassment- oh boy. My children come home with a list of measurements for their clothing that is acceptable and not acceptable. “straps to be at least 2 finger widths, shorts no shorter than the longest finger when arms are placed by their sides with elbows straight.. No halters,…” I am amenable to restrictions that will keep my teenager from looking like “Roxxxxxxxxxxxxanne and her red dress”, but even at that, some people just take the ideas and run with them. Clergy to hug via non-hesitating pats,no more than 6-8 pats per hug…..No more butterfly kisses allowed, hug only where lingerie leaves free, or only where shoes are souled, or only where bikinis leave to the open air. If I learned all the rules, I’d become a icey cube. Hi is about as good as it would be. Yuck. I’m a hugger at heart, I believe in the power of connection through hugs. Hugs carry a natural energy that heals and offers comfort and communicates friendship. Hope I don’t have to organize a hug patrol “Free Arms for all!!”

Tuesday, May 09, 2006

Saving Souls

Today is the day someone decided would be the perfect day to jackhammer a hole in the brick wall that holds up my side of the building. I can fully understand why this particular day would be appealing to the jackhammerist. We held 3 Bible Studies this morning, had a men’s breakfast, and we were visited by a desperate person looking for assistance.

In addition, there were many counseling sessions taking place just across the hall- and anyone knows that there is nothing like the rip-tear of metal against brick to create a calming environment for deep personal discussions.

I had it easy, being the one who was conversing with the visitor who came to us in search of assistance. I know this particular person, and have noticed in our previous discussions, that he has a bit of trouble conversing or exchanging words that I can understand. So, communication without words was not a problem today. We have learned to use eyebrow chatter to convey our messages back and forth.

The people who climbed out of the depths of hell to work on the construction today resembled characters from old stories and movies I’ve seen. One was silent and wore a baseball hat. He was a Silence of the Lambs sort; hollow eyes and a gnawing in his gut for something human to consume. We didn’t talk much. Another looked like a cross between Rip Van Winkle and ZZ Top. They are genetically connected somewhere down the line. The third stooge was Moe, no question.

They dropped in this morning surrounded by a dull fog, which I later discovered was just a contrail of mortar dust from a previous job. They had reflective dust particles in their hair, and the Rip Van Winkle guy had a beard that tinkled. It was a little odd. As a group, they felt slightly radioactive to me, but not wanting to be rude, I didn’t mention it.

They went straight to work,pulling in all sorts of equipment and cords. They set up the area to look very much like a true construction site. It was impressive. No scaffolding, but nearly every other prop you could imagine created a realistic set. They measured, they stood, they looked, they looked at their watches, they waited.

During their prep time, I was inundated with questions. ….Why are there three men in the ladies’ rest room? What’s with the beard? Are they here to see the Pastor? Do they have the right church? What’s that smell? I noticed the Bible Study students begin to arrive for their classes about the same time the power equipment got dragged into the hallway. Need I say more? Timing is everything. And so the lilting melody began…..

I felt for the Pastor, though. He was working hard in his office doing quiet things. I said DOING QUIET THINGS. Meditation, working on sermons, and counseling.

His first appointment arrived and as they closed the door, I started to wonder…….I thought to myself, ‘What would it be like to be in there right now,?’ I imagined a person venturing in to see the Pastor for the very first time. They are a little bit intimidated, shy maybe, nervous. They have taken a long long time of thinking and deciding and finally, they decided to take the leap and go see the Pastor, the Mighty Pastor for some much needed comfort and advice. Maybe they’ve been unable to sleep for nights and nights because of the weight of their own personal burden. So, they meekly make their way into the Pastor’s cave and when they sit down they realize that their fears were for naught. The room is clearly filled with Christian love and kindness. They deepen their breathing a tad and let go a smidgeon.

The Pastor pulls his chair closer so that he can focus all of his attention on his congregant- in- need. It’s a Rockwell moment- A warm scene showing the support that can transpire between people. The visitor begins to talk, well, the visitor’s mouth opens. The Pastor leans a little closer, tilting his head and turning his ear toward the conversation and then- and then- the jackhammer begins singing its song. The sofa sitter is sent straight into the ceiling, and the Pastor continues to fall forward, right out of his chair. The noise stops abruptly and the two try again. Again, the jackhammer interrupts the confidential moment.

90 minutes later, the Pastor’s door opens, and he comes out with his eyes wide, eyebrows hang gliding over his head. Straight to the nut jar he goes.

“What’s tttttthhhhhaaaattttt nnoooiiissseee???” He vibrates. The nut jar is shaking in his hold, and it isn’t long before we have peanut butter.

I held his hands still around the jar and guided the jar of nut butter back down to its place on my desk. “So how was the appointment? I didn’t’ see him come out.”

“Every time he started to talk, the walls would tremble and the floor would shake and I couldn’t hear a thing.”

I thought a minute. “ Well, Is he hiding somewhere in your office?”

“ Heck, no. He climbed out the window a while ago, I saw him running down the sidewalk towards the Baptist church, I guess he’s going to try again down there.” He hung his head and trembled back towards his office.

I called after him,“Hey, boss- don’t sweat it, you did what you could, I’m sure you made a big difference just being there for him.”

“ Well, you can’t save ‘em all, I guess.” My disheartened boss went into his office, gently closing the door behind him. I stood and watched with a heavy heart. He’s a good guy, and a great listener. I watched as his door closed, and I watched as the doorknob fell out and onto the floor. Some days are better than others, I guess.

Church Chick