I had just arrived at 5 North and had received my list of prospective communicants for the day. As I was scanning the list of names – sometimes there’s someone I know – I heard a weak voice emanating from room 5004; the voice of an old woman, probably an Alzheimer’s patient calling out for attention; nothing too strange about that. But, then I was stopped in my tracks when I heard what she was saying:

“Can someone bring me Holy Communion?” Over and over again, “Could I go to Holy Communion?”

I had to chuckle at the seeming coincidence that I just happened to be in the right place at the right time. I’ve come to expect these unexpected scenarios when serving as an emissary for our Lord.

A quick knock on the door and in I went. As expected, there was a frail, dear old soul babbling incoherently, but always returning to the initial request that was quite coherent:

“Would someone please bring me Holy Communion?”

I told her I had come to do just that; that I had Jesus with me. At this, she settled right down. Her agitated state melted away as we began the familiar words of the Communion rite: “In the name of the Father…”

I felt such a close bond to her and to Jesus. Where there had been agitation moments before, there was now peace. Placing my hand on her fragile shoulder, I asked our Lord to stay with her; to continue to make his presence felt; to wrap his arms around her and in his own way, let her know how much he loves her; how proud he is of her.

When we had finished praying, I couldn’t bring myself to leave. There was some chocolate pudding there which she hadn’t touched, so I fed her and she enjoyed it. Then I kissed her on the forehead and went on to the next patient.

This dear, sweet old woman stayed in my heart as I went from room to room. How could she have known that I was coming down the hall bringing her Jesus when she called out requesting him? In the ordinary sense of knowing, I don’t think she did know. But, if we pay close attention, there is an extraordinary sense in which we come to discover that there is more to us than meets the eye. I am more than my cognition. I am more than my physical strength. I am more than how I feel at any given moment. How many times, have I been surprised that someone sees something in me that I had no idea was evident? I may feel distracted, my mind on the day’s “to do” list; I may even feel tempted and anything but holy, and yet I am surprised that people see a “good man” underneath all this. I hope that good man is a projection of my spirit – that essential part of me that is not defined by my clarity of mind, or my strength, or my feelings, or my thoughts at that moment.

Then, my mind turned toward the encounter between Mary and Elizabeth and their two unseen sons.  The Spirit of God communicated to the spirit of Elizabeth… and she “knew”. At that same moment, Mary “knew” that God had raised up a lowly handmaid; that he had done great things for her; from that day on, nothing would ever be the same.

There is something in each of us that is very deep. After I had finished for the day, I went back to room 5004 just to check in on her before leaving. She was sleeping peacefully. “As the deer longs for streams of water, so my soul longs for you, my God… Deep is calling unto deep…” (cf Ps. 42)