I know someone who legitimately would not lift a finger to help anyone, or so he says. In reality, I think he does many things to help people, but if you ask him, he will tell you he doesn’t do anything. I believe in service. Those of you who have talked with me know I am a proud veteran and spent seventeen years in the military. I really enjoyed it and sometimes I miss it. I am way too old, and fat, to do that kind of thing today.
What you probably don’t know is that I actually served on the Fire Department in our little town of Excelsior, Minnesota for three years. I was a fire fighter and basic life support provider. Lots of calls answered and I had a great time. Service is important to me.
I am a Christian and serve with my church in a couple of different capacities and I want to share one particular story with you that really had an impact on me recently.
One of the things I do is take communion to our shut-in members. It doesn’t take much time. We take a small communion kit (already prepped for us) to the nursing/retirement home where the shut-in is and give them communion. I am a Lutheran and we treat communion as one of the sacraments so it is really an important thing to us. But, that is not the point of this blog. It is what happened afterward.
Getting old is hard and I really feel sad when I see some of these retirement homes. People are essentially confined to a small world. Granted, they are surrounded by people their own age, but they really lose the freedom that comes with being able to take their cars out to the surrounding world or even move the way they want. So, getting a visit from someone is really a treat.
I always do the same thing, I sit with them and talk a little before getting down to communion. I let them talk about whatever they want. They tell me about their kids, their husbands or wives, and one lady proudly told me about their dogs. I tell them a little about me and why I am there.
After providing communion to one woman and finishing up with prayers, I put my kit together to leave and she said something that stopped me in my tracks.
“Thank you so much, I needed this.”
It was such a shocking thing to hear that I had to take time to process what she said. She ‘needed this’. I am not sure if she specifically meant communion, the visit, the prayers or all of it but to her it was something she ‘needed’.
We equate ‘needing’ to the idea of food and water, but not normally to other things. She wasn’t using the phrase the same way someone talks about needing to charge their cell phone or needing to take a shower. In her eyes, it was clear that she gave our visit the same valuation as the things you need to sustain human life. To her, that interaction was as necessary as breathing.
Upon leaving the little apartment she shared with another woman, she looked different to me. Less stressed, happier than when we came in. Who are we to say what is and what isn’t truly life sustaining? Again, I make no claim as to what it was that she needed, but she found something in us that day. There was something in our visit that provided exactly the thing she was in greatest need of. As if the visit itself breathed sustaining life into her.
Service can be anything from helping a neighbor to collecting food for the food pantry. The simplest of acts can lead to the biggest of rewards. Who was the recipient of the reward? I’ll let you judge for yourself.
-Your Humble Servant,