From the Train… Sister Anne

Two days ago, the day before we got on the train to visit family, I got a request. Could I help move a friend’s kid and his family? The kid got a new job in town and needed to move his stuff – no piano, no appliances, no sleeper sofa and a truck big enough for the job. All magic words for an ex-furniture mover who is maybe getting too old for this kind of work.

And work it was on the hottest day of the summer so far. I left the house in the morning before eight and got home in the afternoon at six. In between we lifted couches and boxes and toys and stuff from the shed. I packed the truck and at the end of the day, it all fit in and got trucked to the day’s destination. We sweated a lot, laughed some and accomplished a good thing.  

It felt good to know that this old guy can still lift a box, get a dresser out of the house and pack truck. It felt good to use those gifts – jokingly, I call my spiritual gifts – to lend a hand and provide a lift. I was thanked profusely, over and over again.

Right now I’m getting to the end of my 18 hour train ride. It’s always interesting the people you encounter and now I’m wondering about Sister Anne and her handicapped charge, Sam. They got on the train sometime in the middle of the night and sat right behind us. I knew this from  listening to Sam’s load guttural complaints as he settled in.

I think (and I’m mostly guessing here) that Sister Anne was taking Sam, at least part-way, back to his group home somewhere in New York. They parted ways in Albany, but Anne, it seemed, was taking care of the details that would get Sam safely to his final destination… and I hope he made it OK.

Sister Anne? I don’t know much about her, really. I’m quite sure she hasn’t had to load a moving truck very often or coax a couch around a corner. I’m pretty sure her spiritual gifts don’t include moving furniture. What became quite evident to me, without even meeting her, was her spiritual gifts of patience, kindness, compassion, perseverance, love…

I didn’t hear Sam utter a word of thanks as we parted. I don’t know if Sister Anne felt appreciated for what she had done for him. I do believe that in Anne’s world, for this short train ride, Sam was one of those ‘least of these’ we hear about….and whether she realizes it or not, what she did for Sam today, she did for Jesus.

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