ONE FATEFUL MEETING
I slip into the cramped room. A small crowd of women sits in foldable chairs around rectangular tables. Their voices blend together into a murmur of unintelligible words. I sit down, pull a Bible and a study guide from my bag, and set them on the table.
The room is dim from the outdated wood panels, stained commercial carpet, and heavy red drapes that line the windows. The door is closed to keep the air conditioning inside because, even in fall, the evenings are warm. The room feels heavy and smells hot. I fan myself, hoping the room will cool down quickly.
A woman slides awkwardly into the seat next to mine. Her hands tremble and she rests a cane with petite purple flowers onto the table’s edge. I sneak a look at her out of the corner of my eye. I don’t recognize her. I wonder if she is new or goes to the earlier church service. Her dark hair is cut into a bob and she wears glasses. She appears in her late forties. Her name, Carole, is written on the cover of her Bible.
A voice interrupts my observations. “Are there any prayer requests before we get started?”
Hesitantly, Carole raises her hand. She speaks softly and her words quiver. Despite this, she tells us about things that have been pent up inside too long; no dam can hold her river of words back.
“I’d like prayers for my daughter, Ruth, and her unborn baby,” Carole tells us. “Ruth met the baby’s father shortly after she got out of rehab.” Carole pauses and takes a deep breath. “David, the father, is in prison and Ruth is living with his family… who are meth dealers.” Carole fiddles nervously with the cover of her Bible. “Ruth is a few months along but she hasn’t seen a doctor yet. I’ve offered to drive her there but she keeps cancelling.” Carole looks down, finished.
I introduce myself after the study. “My son, Eli, is outgrowing a lot of his things. Would you like them for the baby?”
“Oh, yes,” Carole tells me, a small smile tugging at her lips. “Thank you.”
Carole shares the same prayer request each week. As autumn turns to winter, I pass on Eli’s old baby items. Carole, in turn, passes on information about Ruth.
“Ruth’s moved in with me,” Carole tells me on one such visit. She sighs, relieved.