I felt someone’s hand on my shoulder. I don’t mean literally. I looked around but saw no one close by. So I continued to press forward into the rear of the church sanctuary, shuffling against the flow of worshipers leaving the 8:45 service. My choir music folder in one hand and water bottle in the other, I slowly inched my way in the direction of my usual place in the choir for the rehearsal that precedes the 11:00 service.
Then I spotted her, seated near the aisle in the last row of pews, her black curls sprinkled with gray. I hadn’t seen her in a long time, months at least, has it been a year? A beautiful postlude ending the 8:45 service thundered toward its conclusion. I approached and gently touched her shoulder, and she stood and turned to face me, her eyes spilling tears. She reached for a hug.
Over the organ’s crashing chords, I heard her choke out, “My mother died this week.” She reached for another hug, longer this time. The music stopped. “I am so glad to see you,” she said, her voice now lower. “I so hoped you would be here.” Friends had advised her to attend a church service, to worship in this familiar setting and surround herself with friends. “I didn’t want to come, but then I thought if I did, I might see you. I hoped.”
Why me? She has many friends. Her remarks were humbling, to say the least, but then I realized. Someone must have sent me there, to be in this place at this particular moment. And to minister, as friends do.