simply holy, wholly simple
Thursday, June 13, 2013 at 10:02AM
Terry-Michael Newell

I was on-call at a hospital some years ago, on a Sunday to be specific. A standing responsibility as chaplain on a Sunday was to lead a chapel service in two locations of the hospital. In one setting, six patients and I came together to meet God. No one arrived without help from a nursing aide and I greeted each one as they were brought in.

One had a hip replacement. Another had heart problems. Others had a stroke, an accident, or some situation they didn’t offer this congregation of saints and sinners. From the first few moments, I wanted to take off my shoes. The holiness of this gathering was almost as visible as the tears that it caused. 

I shared a reading from Psalm 139 suggesting that there’s no place we can go to escape the presence and power of God. Before I could ask, others starting sharing their stories, most of which were told through tears. When I was trying to bring things to a close, I asked if anyone had a song they’d like to offer making some joke about not wanting to sing myself. As most everyone laughed, one patient quietly said, “I’ve got something to offer.” And he began to sing. As large tears marked his rough face, his offering marked my soul. 

What God has for me, it is for me.
What God has for me, it is for me.
I know without a doubt, that he will bring me out.
What God has for me, it is for me.
(It is for Me,” Miami Mass Choir)

I prayed our closing prayer calling each person by name. What struck me was that for about 45 minutes that Sunday morning, I was with the church. We normally say “at” church. But, that doesn’t seem to fit much anymore. Church isn’t a place. Nope. For me, church is a communal reality, a way of living, and a way of being human.

My poetic response.

Simple stories.
A simple song.
A simple gathering of flesh and blood, hands and feet, hearts and minds.

Simply beautiful.
Simply meaningful. 

Simply holy.
Wholly simple.

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