Mission and Outreach: Chaplain Life
Things had gone well in the morning. The drive into Dallas, morning prayer at St. Matthew’s, staff meeting at the diocesan offices – all were great, and I was finally in Garland at a senior-living home to visit Deacon Alyce Schrimsher. I was carrying a belated birthday gift and card in one hand and my large communion kit in the other as I walked down the street toward her apartment. Water draining across the street looked innocent enough. But it covered an invisible layer of slime. And soon my feet were out from under me, the full force of my body eventually meeting the concrete on my right knee alone. How embarrassing! My slacks were a muddy mess. Then, sitting down on the grass, I sank down a few inches into the turf, which must have been freshly watered! Now both the back and front of my slacks were soaked! Inching up to the curb, I tried to stand. But the right knee would have no part of it, the bones and cartilage voicing their displeasure.
“OK, David. What do you do now, sitting on the curb in the hot sun, in soiled clothes, unable to walk?” Thank Goodness for cell phones. Deacon Alyce summoned officials from the senior-living home, who helped me and the large communion kit into a golf cart, took me to the front desk, and settled me into a wheel chair. I called my wife, Laura, to meet me at the hospital with fresh clothes. Brookside summoned a non-emergency transport.
While I was waiting, Deacon Alyce came to the front desk in her motorized wheel chair and asked if she could do anything. I requested prayer. Fighting the multiple sclerosis that slowed her speech, Alyce held my hand there in the foyer and prayed a beautiful prayer for me. Needing a restroom, Alyce escorted me down the hall to the men’s room, two wheel chairs heading down the hall. On the way she asked me if I’d like a free ride, and she began pulling my manual wheelchair with her motorized one! Her friends, gathering for lunch, had more than a few questions for their neighbor about her rather disheveled friend!
The transport arrived. But before leaving, I entrusted the Body and Blood of Christ to Deacon Alyce for safekeeping. In spite of all the pain and embarrassment, it was a joy to see this deacon, robbed of so many life functions, still carrying out her vocation to the best of her ability. God was present in the love and compassion of everyone who helped me during this very unusual day!