Saturday, February 16, 2013

Holding Hands With God


The other day I had the privilege of spending half an hour with a gentleman by the name of Leslie. 

Les is from a small town in Arizona, and spent much of his 80+ years working on a ranch. He is a proud man and is fastidious about his appearance; his cowboy boots are shined, pearl-buttoned shirt is tucked in, and he insists his Wranglers are pressed and starched, or he refuses to put them on. He still proudly wears that silver buckle that he won in a roping event, decades ago. His graying hair is neatly trimmed, and his blue eyes still twinkle when he hears someone call his name. But Les is trapped inside a body that he doesn't recognize anymore; a body that refuses to cooperate with him.  

Les has a form of Parkinson's disease. In addition to the sometimes violent tremors in his hands, Les finds it difficult to communicate. Part of his brain has slowed down to the speed of molasses. It isn't that he is slow in understanding - he knows exactly what is going on at all times - it's just that his reactions and speech get bogged down somewhere between his brain and his mouth. It's as if the words have suddenly decided to take a detour through Tokyo. It makes for long silences between questions and answers. Needless to say this is frustrating, both to Les and to the people who care for him.

Les and I sat on a bench by the garden, despite the chill in the air. I gave him communion, and asked him if he would pray with me. We closed our eyes, I held his shaking hands and invited the Holy Spirit to join us. And in that moment, I felt a warm tingling - like an electric current - course down through my arms and hands, and Les' hands became still
In that moment, we held hands with God. 
I wish I could say that Les was miraculously healed, but the tremors were back within a minute. Despite our prayers, Les' disease may still progress. His speech may eventually become even more difficult, and the tremors may become more intrusive. But in that moment, we both knew that God still loves him and hasn't deserted him. In that moment, we felt peace. And that is enough.