If that grabbed your attention then my next line will shock you even more. This momentous event happened at the Hoyles-Escasoni Complex, a long-term care facility. It was shortly after my ordination to the diaconate and my first visit to Hoyles Home for our monthly Eucharist. As usual after worship in the chapel we take communion up to residents who are unable to make it down to worship. Being my first time there I was feeling very nervous. Up until that point almost all my ministry experience had been with people thirty and under. So to be in this type of long-term care facility was definitely outside my comfort zone.
As we are in a room to administer to a woman on our list to receive that day a hand from the next bed touches my arm. I turn to see a woman in the late stages of Alzheimer’s. Her eyes are vacant and she is mumbling a steady stream of gibberish. She has no hair on her head and I see that she is not so much reaching out for me but simply flailing her arms. I see her name above her bed and I am moved to hold her hand. As I do I say her name and her arms stop moving but she continues to speak. At that moment as I hold her hand and look deeply into her eyes I see something divine. It’s as if God is lying there right in front on me. There is something holy and sacred about the frailty and weakness of this woman. I know nothing about this woman but I imagine she once loved and was loved and that she was perhaps a mother, a wife, a sister, a friend. I reach for a tiny piece of bread and gently dip into the wine and say “the body and blood of Christ given for you.” A peace comes over her and she stops her mumbling and looks straight ahead at me. I think I see a hint of clarity there. We stood frozen like that for a brief moment. Then the shadow returns to her eyes and she drifts back into the throes of her dehumanizing disease.
I left that place changed. If you ask me if I think there is a God I will say I believe there is because I held God’s hand in that most thinnest of places at Hoyles-Escasoni. The words from John’s gospel resonate with me: “The Word became flesh and blood, and moved into the neighbourhood. We saw the glory with our own eyes, the one-of-a-kind glory” (1:14a The Message). God is here among us, we just need eyes and hearts to see.
Creator God, give us eyes to see, ears to hear, hearts to feel, and hands to serve the wonder of your incarnation among us. Amen.