Handshakes and fear
I have been talking with Larry and his girlfriend Karen every Monday for a few months. They are always drunk. Sitting in their own little world on the same bench, they seem to never move. I wonder how they get booze if they never get up from the bench. They have always been kind and friendly to me. “Hey Mike, you out here doing your thing!” I love to hear them talk about their childhoods. What elementary school they went to. Bus rides they took. Teachers that gave them attention. I tell Larry he would be a good teacher or coach. He is patient and loves kids. He is moved by the encouragement—his favorite high school teacher told him the same thing. He asks me if I know why his feet are numb, telling me they have been tingly for a month. He lets me know that it started after his mom died. “She was my everything.” I offer my condolences and talk about my mom’s recent passing. We talk about stress and anxiety manifesting in the form of a physical ailments. I tell him that alcohol abuse can damage your body, affecting blood flow, organ function, etc. I share that the Holy Spirit sometimes speaks to us as a warm presence in our body. His tingly feet could be the Holy Ghost speaking to him! I ask if I can pray for him. He stretches out his hand and grips mine. It’s not a half-hearted hand grab. He is holding on for dear life. We pray and he shakes my hand again. I offer to take him to the hospital and give him my card. I hope he gets sober. I hope he doesn’t die from drinking himself to death. Hold Larry, God. “I cling to you; your right hand upholds me.” (Psalm 63:8, NIV).