When the still small voice yells

Linda always comes to our Tuesday night dinner church and is always drunk. Not tipsy, buzzed, or inebriated, but falling over, close to death drunk. Between moments of yelling the F word at traffic and at people waiting for the bus, she will usually ask for prayer. This week, she asked me to pray for the Pope and his apology over the abusive history of the church and Indigenous boarding schools in Canada. In the middle of a sweltering ninety-degree parking garage filled with homeless people eating chilled Mediterranean salad and sipping tropical peach iced tea, Linda and I hold hands and pray. As I pray, naming the tragedy and evil of forcibly removing generations of Indigenous children from their homes and making them attend church-run, government funded boarding schools, Linda interruptus me and tells me that God loves everyone, and that “all white people aren’t responsible for the sins of some.” As a Native American woman, struggling through poverty and alcoholism, Linda chooses to offer up prayers of reconciliation. A holy response to my prayer of repentance on behalf of the church. We end our prayer with a hug and Linda asks me if I can bring her a Bible. I know where she lives and cynically agree, wondering if she will even remember talking with me.

The next day it is still a sweltering ninety degrees. I ask my coworker Reverend Paul Benz if he thinks I should even try to find Linda to give her a Bible. Paul responds with an emphatic, “Yes absolutely. We are called to minister and care for people’s souls!” I grab a Bible and drive to the parking garage where we have our dinner. As soon as I pull in, the bus arrives, the doors open, and Linda emerges like an answer to prayer. Like God saying, why would you not bring Linda a Bible? I put on my hazards, get out of my car, and hand Linda a copy of God’s word. She shrieks with delight, and we hug. She thanks me and yells I love you. She yells prayers of love and thanksgiving while I walk back to my car. People stare and the yelling continues. I am now in my car waiting to merge into traffic. Linda is still yelling prayers of love at me. Prayers of public forgiveness. I am thankful that today I was able to hear the voice of the Holy Spirit. Thankful that God keeps his promises. “Your word is a lamp that gives light wherever I walk (Psalms 119:105).”

Michael Cox

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