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Theology of a broken toe September 4, 2015

Posted by vsap in Blogroll, Poetry.
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An elderly priest was seated calmly, comfortably

at a terminal gate waiting for his flight.

He was reading a book, his readers purposefully slipped

down his nose but then I noticed his right shoe exposed his toes

or, more precisely, bandages wrapping two of them together.

The psychology of the terminal gate is, for me, an uncanny ability

to talk with people I wouldn’t normally approach.

Some people can suspend belief that anyone sees the way they dress

when they come to the airport, but that’s not me,

I become two degrees more fearless about encountering the strange.

The seat next to the priest was empty so I sat down quietly

not trying to disturb while making my presence known.

He looked over at me, nodded an acknowledging smile

and just as he was turning I said,

“Whoa, looks like you lost some of your leather, Father!”

He placed a bookmark in his book, sort of a paper crucifix,

and turned to me as if he had spoken on the subject before,

“Well, young man, it seems I’ve broken my toes skiing.”

Of course, I wasn’t expecting that, maybe a rectory mishap

or a result of too much to drink

at a nineteenth hole with a bishop

but skiing? I had to learn more!

“You don’t say? Vacationing in Aspen, maybe Steamboat Springs?”

“No, Park City, Utah, I grew up outside of Salt Lake,” he rebutted.

“Wow!” I exclaimed, as if there was another possible response,

“Oh, it’s not so bad,” he replied matter-of-factly,

“I have had many friends break a toe or two and get right back on the slopes.

I did that, too, as a younger man, but I’m a little more cautious now.”

Nodding in agreement I couldn’t help but ask the next question,

“So, then, where is God in all of this, Father?”

Now, it appeared, I had his full attention.

We had gone from idle chatter to the theology of a broken toe.

“That’s an interesting question but, you know, He is in everything!”

“Even a broken toe?” I prodded.

“Especially in things like a broken toe,” he stayed on point,

“There is some throbbing, just a reminder that I’m not whole,

and the pain tells me about suffering in the world, just my part,

then there is a blessed assurance that He is with me through it,” he paused,

“I’m never alone in this suffering and to put an exclamation point on it

He sends you over to reveal to me others perceive my pain and want to heal it,

in whatever way they can,” another pause,

“So, He sent you for that purpose right now. Angel unaware, along that line.”

I was nodding unconsciously as he spoke when the gate agent called

for those who needed more time to board.

“Thanks, Father,” I said tentatively, as he struggled up

and began to limp toward the gate.

“As they say, see you on the other side!” he replied.

I was left to ponder for a moment what had just happened.

Angel unaware.

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