Now that folks are vaccinated and venturing out again, I’ve got another wave of people I’m visiting that I haven’t seen in fifteen months. Every church has what I call “homebound” members. I used to call them “shut-ins” but I found out people don’t like that label. It makes them feel old. Anyway, as the pastor, I try to visit my homebound members about once a month and bring them communion since they can’t be with the congregation for Sunday worship. It seems like everyone has a recent story about seeing friends and family for the first time since COVID quarantining. Here’s one of mine.
So B. is going to turn one hundred years old this fall. Her daughter, whose name also starts with a B, so I’ll call her B-two, is her caregiver. The last time I saw them was February 2020. Fifteen, no wait, sixteen months ago. Wow, that is a long time. That’s just nuts. Because of B’s age, B-two was hyper-cautious about going out and bringing home germs of any kind. B-two went to the grocery store twice a month. When she got home, she took off her clothes, put them in the laundry, took a shower, and wiped down her purchases. She brought the mail in from the mailbox wearing latex gloves, and let it sit on the dining room table for a day or two before opening anything. Hyper-cautious is an appropriate word. They went nowhere and saw no one for over a year. They are not tech-savvy, so they did not watch any worship services online. They just. Stayed. Home.
A few weeks ago, their elder let me know that they were ready for a visit. They were vaccinated. I was vaccinated. The door was open. (Elders are folks in our congregation who help me keep in touch with all our families.) Nice. I called and set up a time to visit. Bonus: they would have lunch for me, too!
When I walked in the door, it seemed like no time had passed at all. I felt like I had just been there one month ago. At the same time, I could see (and they could probably see too) how much we had aged. So much and so little time had passed! A time-space anomaly (as often said on Star Trek).
We talked about my grandchildren that had been born, church members who had died and some who were still alive. B is the oldest member of our congregation. I asked her what kind of party she wanted this fall. She’ll probably have a weekend drop-by event for all those she hasn’t outlived. That’s the problem with living a long life. You outlive everyone who you wanted to celebrate with you!
I was there for about 2-1/2 hours today. Lunch was shrimp cooked in a wine sauce, with a green bean bacon side, a nice spinach salad, some peas and rice, and a frozen angel food/sherbet cake for dessert. It’s a tough job, but someone has to do it. I made sure I did a thirty minute Peloton ride when I got home.
Fifteen months later, I got to see a few members of my church again. They got to see me. I think I got the greater blessing today.