On November 30 I arrived at a senior residence to visit a church member about 4:30 PM. She was seated at the dinner table with another woman, but the tables were not set and food had not yet come for supper. I spoke with my friend, read a Psalm and prayed with her. The other woman at the table seemed glad to be included and reached out her hand to thank me. As I got up I noticed a woman sitting alone at the next table and crying. I stopped and introduced myself as a pastor. Through her tears I really couldn’t understand what she was saying, but I blessed her and walked toward the elevator.
The floor supervisor and social worker were standing in the hallway talking and making calls on cell phones, almost blocking the hallway. As I tried to slip past them the social worker spoke to me. “You’re a pastor.” “Yes,” I answered. “We have a woman whose husband just died and the family has asked for a chaplain. If we get the family’s OK would you stay for a few minutes and visit with her?” Of course I said I would. After a phone OK from someone in the family, the social worker got the woman who had been crying alone at the table and brought her (and me) to her room in her wheelchair.
After I was introduced, I ask her if she wanted to tell me about her husband. She did. As I started reading her a Psalm, two women from the family came in. I introduced myself again, read the Psalm and prayed. In the ensuing conversation I learned that this woman and her husband had moved from out of town to that facility just four days earlier. She was declining and needed more care than her seemingly stronger husband could give her. He was in an independent living apartment and she in a skill care room.
This woman and her relatives all expressed not only thanks for my visit but interpreted it as God specific timing that I would be available as I must have done this often since I knew just what to say to bring comfort. I mentioned that I would be noting our experience in my “God Watch” calendar (where I record how I was most aware of God’s presence each day). They asked if I would include her when I made my weekly visits there.
I believe God showed up in the space of grief between us that afternoon.