I work for an assisted living community and one afternoon as I was covering the front desk I watched as one of our residents made his way to our front lobby. With nary a sound he slowly bee-lined it to one of the large overstuffed chairs, facing the parking lot and back up to the fireplace. Eventually, he plopped down into the soft cushions with an exasperated, “umph.”
The distance between us was less than 30 feet when I called out a greeting, “Hi Charles.”** With a quick nod and a baritone rich, “Hello dear,” this navy colored beret wearing gentle man propped his elbow on the armrest of the floral printed chairs, bowed his head and closed his eyes.
Now my good friend Charles is known throughout the community for his napping. Good weather or bad, winter or summer, cold or unseasonably warm, Charles could always be found sitting inside or out, soaking up a sunbeam.
Today was no different, Charles looked cozy, his aged eyes gently closed as the early afternoon sunshine splayed out across his lap.
It wasn’t long before a rhythmic deep breathing could be heard. Smiling to myself I turned my attention back to the stack of medical files.
Moments later I heard low gentle mumbling. A glance over my shoulder showed that none of the other residents had wandered in from lunch so I shrugged it off thinking Charles must be talking in his sleep.
“Holy Spirit, thank you for today. Father, please forgive me for anything that I’ve done to displease You…”
Wait, what did I just hear? Did he just say what I thought he said?
Charles’ voice was barely audible but his words were clear. He was talking to God. Right there in broad daylight, in the middle of the lobby. No pomp. No circumstance. Just my good friend and his Lord.
I smiled. It always does my heart good to hear another child of God praying. It’s reassuring to know that others are adding their voices in a cacophony of praise to the One who loves us.
At the same time, I realized I had wandered into holy ground. Charles, through his prayers had created a sanctuary right where he sat.
Now to be honest if I could’ve looked away, I would have. But the reverence in his words, the love that poured from his heart captivated me. It was as if I was being given this precious gift, a lesson on what prayer could and should be like and I wanted nothing to disturb this sacred moment.
I fought back tears because I knew I was witnessing something so poignant, hallowed. I wanted time to slow down, for someone to hit the replay button of life so I could relive it over and over.
I didn’t want to invade Charles’ private conversation with God because those moments were glimpses of sacred ground created by a God who loved his child and a child who loved His heavenly Father.
Thankfully I had been blessed with a front row seat.
The interchange was breathtaking.
I could’ve sat there endlessly watching this prayer unfold but to show respect, I quietly forced myself to turn away and honor this gentle man’s conversation with his Lord.
But the truth is, how does one simply go back to work when you’ve just entered a sacred sanctuary? And frankly why would you even want to? More than anything I wanted to add my voice with Charles’. I wanted to sit in the sanctuary of prayer and thank Him for all of the blessings He’d bestowed upon my life.
When Charles ended his conversation with God, he left the lobby, never once looking my way.
I was awestruck. The sincerity. The genuine love Charles’ words parlayed were so filled with adoration, caused me to not only rethink my own prayer life, which in honesty were a little lackluster, it also triggered the story of Moses and the burning bush.
Exodus 3:1-6 “ Now Moses was tending the flock of Jethro his father-in-law, the priest of Midian, and he led the flock to the far side of the wilderness and came to Horeb, the mountain of God. 2 There the angel of the Lord appeared to him in flames of fire from within a bush. Moses saw that though the bush was on fire it did not burn up. 3 So Moses thought, “I will go over and see this strange sight—why the bush does not burn up.”
4 When the Lord saw that he had gone over to look, God called to him from within the bush, “Moses! Moses!” And Moses said, “Here I am.”5 “Do not come any closer,” God said. “Take off your sandals, for the place where you are standing is holy ground.” 6 Then he said, “I am the God of your father,[a] the God of Abraham, the God of Isaac and the God of Jacob.” At this, Moses hid his face, because he was afraid to look at God.
See…that’s what I’m talking about. Moses was going about his business, tending flocks and all of a sudden God shows up. Like Moses, once we realize that we are on holy ground and to whom we are speaking, we are overcome with love and reverence to the degree that nothing, absolutely nothing else matters. Not time, not environment, nothing, except you and God.
I want moments like these in my life, don’t you?
I want to actively seek the Lord in any given situation and pour out my heart to Him like I saw Charles do. Openly. Buoyantly attentive to only one quest, communing with the Lord.
“Lord, today I praise You for giving us an example through Charles’ walk as to what it can look like to share our hearts with You. May we always be able to boldly ask for forgiveness, know it is given because of the gift of Jesus and His sacrifice, and to know that every moment communing with you is holy ground. In Jesus’ name, Amen!”
Jesus loves you!
**Names and identifying specifics have been changed to protect those whom I write about. I have been given permission to share their story.