Thursday, February 2, 2012


            Being at the bottom has its disadvantages.  It is also good for us.  In some cases, it leads to humorous situations.  Let me explain.
            I started my first nursing job a few months ago!  And yes, the exclamation point was necessary.  The irrepressible joy of having a job that I love has so far outweighed the stresses and strains of being the new kid on the block.  Well, most of them, anyhow.  I’ve been to church only once in a long, long while.  I never knew how much I would miss the fellowship and comfort of a church service!  Although I remind myself that my work as a nurse is an important opportunity of service, I find it difficult to be unable to carry on a cherished weekly tradition.  And thus the story begins.
            It had been nearly two months since my schedule permitted me to be at church, and I was going a little stir-crazy.  Yet another Sabbath came, and I was working day shift yet again.  Catching snatches of sermon over the radio for the bits of time spent in the nurses’ station just increased the longing to be there in person.  So as soon as I clocked out that afternoon, I headed over to the University Church.
            My hopes of snagging a seminar or concert lifted as I spied a scattering of cars in front on my arrival.  Walking through the lobby, I passed a stack of programs on a stand, but didn’t take one – not wanting to throw it away later.  There was a hymn playing, and a men’s trio up on stage.  Oh, how wonderful, a concert!  Slipping in, I chose a seat as far forward as I dared for my late arrival.  The music continued for several blissful minutes.  I was enjoying myself immensely when a local elder took his place behind the podium. 
            “Friends and loved ones,” he began, “we are here to celebrate the life of . . . . . “
            Oh horror!  This was a memorial service! 
            The back of my neck was burning as hotly as my face, but there was no decent escape to be made.  Walking out now seemed infinitely worse than staying!  There had been no casket up front to signal the ceremony, I had not taken a program from that stack in the lobby, and I was sitting far enough forward to be conspicuously visible if I tried to leave.  So, I sat tight, feeling very awkward indeed and trying not to laugh at my strange predicament.
              The service itself was very nice; full of fascinating stories of wartime escapades and community leadership.  A solemn but true celebration of a life lived fully.  There was a great deal more music.  Clear voices, cascading piano, and soaring cello.  I found myself drawn out of my embarrassment ever so slightly, enjoying the music and the reverence.  Once my row was ushered out at the end though, I ducked through the crowd and made a dash for my car.  Having a conversation with a curious mutual acquaintance would be the end of me for sure! 
            And that, my dear friends, is the end of that.  Quick observation though – God has a wicked sense of humor!

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