A potluck. A little church in the sticks. There were maybe 50 people at the covered-dish social.
Attendees were all ages. All classes. They represented all creeds, income brackets and SEC football allegiances.
The casserole dishes were steaming, aligned on red-and-white gingham tablecloths. The desert table was about to buckle from the combined weight of so many refined carbohydrates. The tea was sweet enough to power a residential lawn mower.
Before anyone ate, the old preacher shuffled to the center of the room and called for everyone’s attention. He walked with a pronounced limp. His face was half paralyzed.
The room fell silent.
When the old man spoke, few could understand his slurred words and thick tongue. It almost sounded like the old pulpiteer had been drinking. But liquor wasn’t the culprit here. It was thrombosis.
After his recent stroke, the old man’s small motor functions have been inhibited. This affected his speech. Which is why he no longer preaches or prays publicly anymore. Nobody can understand him.
But the old man still attends church here. Every
Sunday. He is supportive and enthusiastic about the church’s new preacher. He still comes to every social event. He can still eat his weight in squash casserole.
And he can still write.
Which he does. Every day. And sometimes he writes out his prayers for others to read aloud. Like the one he wrote this afternoon.
Everyone bowed heads and joined hands to form a human chain. Some closed their eyes. Some didn’t.
A gaggle of children walked forward, gathering around the old man before the prayer. They were kids of all ages. Big and small. They all held index cards.
Visitors were wondering what was happening here. What were all these kids doing before the prayer?
The old man hoisted a little girl onto his hip. He gave her the go-ahead, and she began to read aloud from her index card.