Before 5:50 p.m. yesterday, I was going to write: "Experiencing a dark night of the writing soul. Please stand by indefinitely for any future posts."
Ricky Rialto (not his real name) changed that. By a path somewhat twisty and turny, I walked into Ricky's hospital room at about 5:50 p.m. yesterday and said, "Ricky?"
With an only slightly tentative smile he said, "Yes."
In an instant my spirit knew this to be a new friend. I introduced myself and explained I'd heard his name mentioned in the Prayers of the People. Further follow-up revealed that Ricky had emergency surgery almost immediately after our previous brief e-mail correspondence. In an effort to get my mind off personal burdens and a gentle but persistent nudge from the Holy Spirit, I arranged to visit Ricky at his post-surgery rehabilitation center. I was going to do something nice for someone in a tough life situation.
Immediately, Ricky turned the tables on that. He made me feel needed by asking questions about a small group at church, one in which he was interested, and in which I had some considerable experience. He made me feel needed by asking me to read aloud the day's Forward Day by Day selection. I gladly read both the appointed Scripture for that day (1 Corinthians) in beautiful King James language, and the Forward Day by Day reflection on that Scripture, a message I sorely needed to hear.
We talked about his life and mine, in general and at our Church. We talked about the growth from tolerance to acceptance to celebration of the LGBT population at our church. We moved the conversation outdoors so Ricky could enjoy a bit of the post-precipitation fresh and moist air. I left knowing this was a beginning far more momentous than I'd ever anticipated. Ricky gave me the gift of moving out from my personal sorrow and making a human connection, receiving a mutual gift of time and listening and delight in new friendship.
Thank you, Ricky. I said it during our conversation, and I'll repeat it here in writing: You are the best new gift I've received in a long, long time.