Today is Easter, the celebration of the resurrection of Christ and I decided to go to church. I went back to my old church which is Anglican/ Methodist and this made me remember a series of events that had occurred when I attended this Church previously.
When I started attending this Church, there was an elderly man (probably in his 70s) who kept talking to me. Each time he spoke to me he asked the same questions; Which part of Africa are you from? What do you think of the weather? What struck you when you arrived here? … and a few other questions. I really don’t mind conversing with elderly people, I realise they tend to be pretty lonely and get excited when someone is willing to hear them out plus, they speak wisely. I also find them quite cute, something to do with their fragility.
The first day I met him, he asked me to please attend his funeral when he is dead because many people won’t be there. He also spoke about him having a house on the hill and how when it was cold in the winter he lived in a house that was down the hill. Cool, right? Ok! Things started getting weird when he gave me his address and asked me to write and post him songs. At this point I felt really sorry for him, I felt he was lonely and was probably trying to make peace with his past by being open.
After my first encounter with him, I kept thinking about why anyone would be inviting someone to their funeral while they were still alive, let alone a stranger. It shook me quite a bit inside and caused me to search myself deeply. I tell you, this is an experience I’ll probably never forget. Why am I writing about this today?
Well, I saw him again today. I saw him from a different perspective. I got to church about 25 minutes early and as soon as I spotted him, I picked a sit that was quite far away from him. I really don’t know why I did this but, in the past he would usually move to seat next to me and I would help him open his hymn book and other books used in the service. He came over and spoke to me, asking the same questions again. I was quite happy today when he didn’t move to seat next to me.
The service was over and while I was having cake in the tea room, he came and sat next to me. I really didn’t want to be in this situation but I felt pity for him all over again. Then he started talking, he asked me the same questions again! I’m quite patient so I answered the questions carefully all over again! Then he started talking about how he had wanted a Chimpanzee as a pet when he was young, he asked me about the state of my country, he told me about how he had a pen-pal in Ghana and how he doesn’t know what happened to him.
While he was talking, the priest came over, he listened to the conversation for a few seconds then butted in. The priest complemented my Marley twists, and while he was at it the elderly man gushed and confessed he thought I had a hat on. Like really??? I wasn’t even offended but, once I was convinced that he was engaged in a conversation with the priest, I picked my bag and left the room.
I decided to sign a portrait that was a gift to a lady who was baptised today. Just as I was signing it, the priest came to me and apologised for butting into my conversation with the elderly man. He said, he butted into the conversation because the elderly man was losing his mind a bit, and he wanted to be sure that I was OK. As much as I love the sermons and as beautiful and inspiring as today was, thinking about going back to this church gives me a slightly creepy feeling.
I know everyone is welcomed to church; bonkers, gay, straight, old, young, married, widowed etc. but how do you deal with an elderly man like him? If I am being honest, I still feel very sorry for him and I don’t think I can be cold enough to ignore him if he comes up to me again.
Jeremiah 29:11 :For I know the thoughts that I think toward you, saith the LORD, thoughts of peace, and not of evil, to give you an expected end.