It was a small church meeting, with only 20 worshipers in attendance. The wheelchair bound congregation sat on layers of blankets to ease the length of the sit. The assortment of humanity facing me was not in the moving and shaking crowd. Red rimmed eyes, mottled skin lined with ribbons of purple and blue, orthopedic comfort wear, and pressure tights were some of the shared characteristics. One leprechaun looking fellow kept giving me a jaunty grin as I watched from our makeshift podium. His few white wisps, though carefully combed, fluttered around his head like resting butterflies. Like many of the other gentlemen, his pants were belted practically below his armpits. Wheeled to the microphone, he offered the opening prayer in a crackly unregulated voice, "Please help us learn what we should do and help us serve thee." "What on earth on are they going to be doing to serve thee this week," I wondered. When finished, he turned and smiled triumphantly at me to celebrate before being wheeled away. Partway through the sacrament, a woman came shuffling in with a walker. "I'm not dressed appropriately," she boomed over and over. "There's an empty seat. Over by that gentleman!" She appraised us of her progress as she found her way to her seat. She asked the gentleman next to her for a tissue only to be promptly shushed.
Largely forgotten, a portion of our city's population lives and waits here to die. No longer of use, we pack them up, keep them clean and quiet and go about our business. "So this is our happy ending." I thought. "This is how most of us end up. What a sorry state of affairs this is."
A sweet woman, carefully dressed in her Sunday best, plus orthotics, minus half her teeth, looked up from where her head rested on her chest and smiled gently at me. I started as I saw her transformed. "There you are!" I gasped.
There was a dark haired, dark eyed princess in there, under an enchantment that made her tired, old, and ugly. As I looked again, I saw them. They are tired, weary, fighting the last great fight of their epic journey, knowing that at any moment, the king will call their name, whisper ... "Prince" or "Princess". At this moment, the spell will break and they will take their rightful forms, and go for their reward. "Oh my Goodness!" I thought. "They are the closest in this room to their happy ending. They can see it, taste it and feel it. And here they sit, hoping to learn something new, trying to spend their last few days, serving, pleasing, helping the king. They must go out fighting."
I stood up and went to the microphone. ...."And lo, I am with you always. Even unto the end of the world." Then I began to sing, "In this very room, there's quite enough love for all of us. And in this very room, there's quite enough joy for all of us."
The heads in the room all bowed. All eyes were shut. For a moment, peace covered faces creased with pain and weariness.
"And there's quite enough hope and quite enough power, to chase away any gloom. For Jesus.... Lord Jesus... Is in this very room."