Monday, December 10, 2007

Narcene

Below is a short piece I wrote about a friend of ours at Southwest Central. Her name was Narcene. We received a phone call this morning that Narcene passed away on September 5th in a nearby hotel called Tweeties. She enjoyed staying at Tweeties periodically because it was the only affordable place that had a handicap bathtub that she could fit in. It was probably the only place that she would bathe.
I'm at a loss for words this morning. I'm glad that God sent Narcene our way. Sometimes I wonder if people like Narcene are sent to us for us to help, or to help us. We will miss her.

I was sitting in my office wrestling with Luke 5, brainstorming how I can get "my people" into this story. How can I tell this story in a way that captures the imagination and calls us to follow Christ into the crevices in life where exilic people abound? As I was engaged in the sermon process of wrestling scripture with a pad on the desk and a pen in the hand, a doorbell sounded. Benevolent cases are routine around our place, but this day it was Narcene—a heavy set woman who lives across town in a compressed, one-room motel. Narcene rarely showers. She wears the same sweatpants and sweatshirt until she can’t wear them anymore. She disposes of them only to put on the next pair which will last a few weeks. Needless to say, when you are within a 20 foot radius of Narcene, all 5 senses suffer. Put her in your car, and you’ll smell her for a few days. This particular day, she visited us because she was hungry. I invited her to walk with me—while keeping my distance—to the convenient store to purchase a bottle of water and a few items to eat. In times of giving, I seek to speak redemptively, wanting people to know that giving is in the name of Jesus. As I was blessing her, Luke 5 wouldn’t let me go. This story of Jesus kept nagging me. God-in-flesh touched the leper, and this text was calling me to touch her. I refused, bargaining with God for a possible “dap” or a rubbing of the elbow. Yet, this text compelled me. So, I put my hand on her shoulder and I blessed her in the name of Jesus. A smile came across her face that hadn’t appeared before. It had been weeks since she had been touched. My eyes were opened to see that I was in Luke 5. I could see Jesus, the leper, and the crowd. I could smell the Judean countryside. I was in its space. That day, God used Narcene to host me in this redemptive narrative.

9 comments:

Anonymous said...

Those who truly touched and ministered to Narcene were both blessing and blessed. Thank God there are a number of folks at Southwest Central who provided the loving touch, the listening ears, the cups of cold water, and the plates of food--not to mention the rides across town. Narcene was frightened of storms and now at last her storms are past and the morning breaks eternal bright and fair. Peace & grace. kcp

Anonymous said...

Josh
Was it Dec 5th or Sept 5th? I thought I saw Narcene after September but I may be wrong.

Josh Ross said...

We were told this morning that it was Sept.5th.

Anonymous said...

Josh
Thanks for replying. At least she is now at peace.

Luke said...

Good thoughts.
I remember you telling me about her.

JENNY said...

Great thoughts Josh. You are a very good writer. I remember Narcene well.

Bobbie said...

We've lost another one of us. Since Narcene wove in and out of our lives, I hadn't missed her. Now I do, just the same as I miss Allen Howdeshell's benedictions, Harold Banister's pushing Marie in with his "glad-to-be-here smile", sweet Norma Hock's smile, Camille Dailey's bubbly joy, seeing Irene Ramirez receiving Lupe's tender care, Brendon Culbert's personal ministry to so many, sisters Vera and Ann sitting together, Fulton sitting beside Billye, Jimmie Thetford who could communicate with her preciousness. Narcene came to us just when we needed her - at a crossroads we may not have seen - to challenge us to wrestle with "Do we...how do we...meet on uncommon ground to journey together?". 'Til we meet again, Narcene.

Josh Ross said...

Bobbie, good words. Thank you for sharing.

Anonymous said...

What a challenge to those of us who argue and reason our way along through life. Not that there's anything wrong with reason and argument. It's just that you have to learn another way to deal with someone who is, first and foremost, unreasonable.

I look forward to a long conversation at the Table, with a beautiful person who was hidden inside all the broken pieces.

mchristophoros