Thursday, February 19, 2009

I've heard tell

Home church is cozy. We keep up with concerns of the church family via a white board that hangs in the office. Babies, death, illness.... it's all there. Announcements at Wed night dinner and joys and concerns during the service keep the names of those with both good and bad news - fresh in the prayerful minds of the congregants.

Work church is three home church's worth of cozy. We also keep a white board with concerns, joys and deaths. Funny how this simple tool works no matter the size of the church.

Although I don't know all of the names that appear and disappear on the white board, I hear passers by comment on the names throughout the week. That white board is a great people connector, conversation starter, comment opener.

I've heard tell of a church that had a listing under concerns for a "Jane Smith" Nothing else, no further description but Jane Smith. People stopped to read the board and said, " OH, Bob had surgery. The Joneses had a baby. and .... JaneSmith. Hmm. What happened to her? .......Who is Jane Smith?" Over the span of a week there wasn't one person heard to say " Oh, Jane. I wonder how that surgery went?, did the transplant take?, or has the flu subsided." With no other information beside her name, how were they to know?

What else could they do but guess?
Over the next few days the guesses bubbled up."Jane Smith. Didn't she have that leg rearrangement? or was that someone else?"
" Is that the woman who had 16 babies? Is this THAT Jane Smith? or was that someone else?"
"Jane Smith. Does she go here? Why I don't believe I've seen her in the early service. Wonder what she looks like?"

Typically, people make it to the white board and stick around for a couple of weeks until they make their way off the board and back into the real world, but I've heard tell that Jane stayed on for 2 full moons. Just Jane Smith. People grew accustomed to seeing her name on the board. They stopped wondering who she was and accepted her for the whiteboard listing that she was.

Then one day, something mysterious occurred. A member stood in front of the board and read aloud, " Jane Smith Cardiac" The questions scurried out of folks' mouths again. " What hospital is she in? Cardiac what?"

A few days later, though- Jane Smith stood alone again, minus cardiac. " Guess she's doing better, whew." "Wonder how the surgery went for her?" "Wonder if she had any surgery?"
" Oh, Jane."

Soon after, an obituary appeared on the floor beneath the white board. It said simply, "Jane Smith died yesterday and she's being buried tomorrow. The End."

"Is that OUR Jane?" "What happened?" "Oh, Jane. Oh, Jane, Jane, Jane. Why didn't you let us know you better?"

The next morning, Jane Smith was not on the board. The mailman stopped and noticed it.
" Jane Smith gone from the board. Gosh, I miss her"

Two days passed. The white board held its listings for all to see and pray about. Sam Slug, neck twitch repair.... Polly Scurry -Burry nip tuck. Jane Smith.

"How'd Jane get back on there?" "It's a miracle!!""What tha??"

Jane held her position for a good week before her condition changed. Jane Smith -lobotomy- nothing found

"What about her heart?" "Oh, my"

One sensitive member picked up the eraser and swiped away the words around Jane's name.
" I think this just labels her. She's had Cardio and then the obituary and now this. It's not right for any one person to endure such labels and I'm taking it off."

So Jane stayed on the board alone again with joys above her and deaths underneath. People passed by. Days came and went. " Jane's still there, hope she's doing better." "Jane seems to be holding her own."

Finally, on a bitter winter afternoon, the mailman came by on his usual route. He stopped and looked at the board. "Jane's been up here a long time now."He called to the secretary. " She's been cardio-ed, lobotomized , obituarized and left out to dry. I'm just wondering who the heck IS Jane Smith?"

The secretary pulled up the church database and looked her up. No Jane there. ???hmmmmm.
She heard the sound of feet on carpet outside her doorway and she stepped out to see 5 people standing in front of the white board shaking their heads in sympathy, empathy, sadness.

" Gosh that Jane's been through a lot" said one.
"First the heart then the brain" said another.
"On the board and in the ground and all the way back again" said another.
The church secretary, as I hear tell, said to the cluster of white board readers, "Do any of you know who Jane Smith is?"
"Well, not really."
" I thought YOU knew who she was."
"I've been coming here for 49 years and I just thought I forgot who she was."

The secretary sent an emergency email to each staff member with the same inquiry. Not one had a clue who Jane Smith was, yet each one replied with concern over Jane's trials over the last weeks.

No one knew her ; no records of her in the church books. The secretary picked up the eraser and started to erase the name off the board.

The whiteboard readers dropped their heads and turned away as only whiteboard reading crowds can do.

The board held an especially white-white vacant space. It glowed with emptiness.

In the days to follow, people walked by as they always did, but the secretary noticed that the comments didn't come along. Folks stood in front of the board and took in the names, but no one had a thing to say.

The hallway took on an odd sense of missing.

I've heard tell bright and early one morning the secretary came into work and as she leaned into her door to open her office, something caught her bifocaled eyes. She took a step back and glanced at the white board.

Jane Smith- the words had returned and clung to the melamine surface with passive intensity.

"Welcome back, Jane" said the secretary.

As she stepped into her office, she heard someone pass by and say, " Jane Smith. Wonder what it is this time?"

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

So glad we have you to keep track of everyone- even those unknown to everyone else. Loonygin