From Rick Kirchoff, Clergy Coaching Network
(I am a collector of stories. I came across this one a decade ago. I regret that I don’t know where I discovered it. But I invite you to read, and savor the message.)
There is a hospice facility in another city that cares for patients with terminal illness who have no family and no one to come visit them.
A church lady felt it was her mission to volunteer there, hoping to bring a little joy to the lives of those spending their last days. So, she’d take magazines down the hallway several days a week, going from room to room.
One day she came to a man’s door that had a “NO VISITORS” sign. She opened the door a bit, and said, “I’m not here for a visit. I see your sign, but I do have some magazines.”
He said, “Didn’t you see the sign, NO VISITORS?”
She said, “Yes, I did, but I’ve got Time, Newsweek, Forbes, Fortune, Sports Illustrated….”
He asked, “You have Sports Illustrated?”
She said, “Yes! I have it right here. Would you like it?”
He said, “Yes, I would.” So she gave him the latest issue. He thanked her, and she left.
A couple of days later, she came back and said, “I’ve got all these magazines again, and I brought you a couple of back issues of Sports Illustrated. I even stopped on the way over and got another sports magazine that I thought you might like.”
He said, “Thank you very much; this is wonderful!”
Then he looked at her and he said, “Now, wait a minute, you’re not religious are you?”
She said, “What do you mean, religious?”
He said, “Aw you know what I mean, trying to ram religion down somebody’s throat.”
She said, “Oh, no, no, no! I’m not like that.”
He said, “Good. Just so we understand each other. I’m not religious either.”
Every week, two or three times a week, she came to his door with her Sports Illustrated, sports magazines, and other magazines. And they would talk, just little snippets.
Then, one day, he said, “You know, I have cancer and I’m going to die. My wife is gone; I don’t have any children; my parents are gone. I don’t have any family. I have a few friends, but they all live in other parts of the world. So, really, I don’t have anybody. Next week I’m going to have surgery. I’m not sure if I’m going to live through surgery, and if I do, I’m not sure what I have to live for.” He talked about his loneliness, his fears, and she just listened.
When he was done, she said, “When you come out of surgery, I’m going to be there with you, because I’m so grateful that you’ve shared this with me.”
And then, ever so graciously, she said, “You know, I’m not religious, but you’ve just shared with me that you’ve going to have surgery. I would like to pray that God would be with you in that surgery. Would that be all right if I had a little prayer with you?”
He said, “Yes…I’d like that.”
She prayed a simple three sentence prayer, and at the end she began praying the Lord’s Prayer.
When she got to the place where it says “Thy will be done,” she felt his hand reach out and touch hers. And he joined her in the words: “Give us this day our daily bread and forgive us our trespasses, as we forgive those who trespass against us. And lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil. For Thine is the Kingdom, and Power, and Glory Forever! Amen!”
They both opened their eyes, and she looked at him in disbelief.
He smiled, and said, “I know; I know I said I wasn’t religious, and I’m really not. I got so turned off with religion because people always tried to ram it down my throat. I had a minister do that and a boss, and I hated it. I got fed up. So I left the church, and I’ve never been back. But my mother taught me the Lord’s Prayer. My Grandmother and Grandfather taught me great hymns of the church and helped me to memorize passages of the Bible. But I was too stubborn to come back home to God. That is, until I met you.”