LOST AT CHRISTMAS

By JIM NICHOLS

“No more let sin and sorrow grow,
Nor thorns infest the ground;
He comes to make His blessings flow
Far as the curse is found.”

Somewhere in town is an unknown clerk at a convenience store who said just the right words: “Mister, are you OK?”

Both the man and woman receive daily meals delivered by volunteers. Each has some physical disabilities; the most obvious of his are mobility ones. He moves from place A to place B very slowly with many steps, each one covering perhaps three inches. When I was a child, we used to call them “baby steps.” 

I encountered him recently on the other side of town from where he lives. He was moving slowly down the sidewalk outside a medical facility. Recognizing him, I reminded him who I was and he seemed to understand. “What are you doing here?” I asked. He replied, “I’m looking for my wife. She left and I don’t know where she is.” The conversation continued.

“Is she in the hospital here?” 

“No, I can’t find her here.”

“Did you look at the other hospital?”

“Yes. She’s not there.”

I was getting more confused. Furthermore, I was late to an appointment and did not really have time to try to solve this problem since I was not convinced there really was a problem. As he shuffled off down the sidewalk, I told myself that I would telephone their house tomorrow morning and make sure they were all right. Of course, I did not. This whole two-minute episode was a poor excuse for attention on my part.

With his obvious mobility problems, the concept of him getting into his car and driving away was unnerving to me but, after all, I was late for an appointment.

A few days later, I visited at their house with his wife and got the rest of the story. 

She pointed to her head and said, “He gets confused. We simply have to stop leaving him by himself. My son took me to a medical appointment and, when we came home, he and the car were gone. He was lost and missing for five hours. We don’t know where he went or what he was doing.

I asked, “How did you find him? It was already dark when I saw him.”

“A clerk in a convenience store saw him just standing outside her store. She went out and said, ‘Mister, are you OK?’ She asked him his name and if he knew his phone number. When he gave her a name and number, she called it and got me. Then I called my son who headed to the store and called the police. When my son got to the store, there was my husband with a police officer and the clerk. My husband still did not know where he was or how he had gotten there, but now he is sitting right here in our living room waiting for this lunch.”

Somewhere in town is an unknown clerk at a convenience store who said just the right words: “Mister, are you OK?”

And to this unknown clerk, the congregation altogether says, “Thank you, friend of God. Merry Christmas.”

Jim Nichols is a retired Abilene Christian University biology professor and current medical chaplain. 

 

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