I.M. Anonymous tells us a story
19th November 2012 · 0 Comments
By Fr. Jerome LeDoux
Regina Oubre, a good friend who lives in the historic, picturesque Bayou LaFourche town of Donaldsonville, Louisiana, forwarded me a story from I. M. Anonymous. For your edification and spark of poignant joy, I paraphrase I. M.’s story.
Passing through his church in the middle of the day, a minister was struck by curiosity. So he decided to pause by the altar to see who had come to pray.
Just then the back door opened. As a man came down the aisle, the minister frowned as he saw the man hadn’t shaved in a while. His shirt was kind of shabby and his coat was worn and frayed. The man knelt, bowed his head, then rose and walked away.
In the days that followed, each noontime came this chap. Each time he knelt just for a moment, a lunch pail in his lap. Well, the minister’s suspicions grew, with robbery a main fear. He decided to stop the man and ask him, “What are you doing here?” The old man said that he worked down the road. Lunch was half an hour. Lunchtime was his prayer time for finding strength and power.
“I stay only moments, see, because the factory is so far away. As I kneel here talking to the Lord, this is kind of what I say, ‘I just came again to tell you, Lord, how happy I’ve been, since we found each other’s friendship and you took away my sin. Don’t know much of how to pray, but I think about you every day. So, Jesus, this is Mike checking in today.’”
Feeling foolish, the minister told Mike that was fine. He told him that he was welcome to come and pray just anytime.
“Time to go,” Mike smiled and said, “Thanks.” He hurried to the door.
The minister knelt at the altar. He’d never done it before. His cold heart melted, warmed with love, and met with Jesus there. As the tears flowed, in his heart he repeated old Mike’s prayer, “I just came again to tell you, Lord, how happy I’ve been, since we found each other’s friendship and you took away my sin. Don’t know much of how to pray, but I think about you every day. So, Jesus, this is me checking in today.”
Past noon one day, the minister noticed that old Mike hadn’t come. As more days passed without Mike, he began to worry some. At the factory, he asked about him, learning he was ill. The hospital staff was worried, but he’d given them a thrill.
The week that Mike was with them brought changes in the ward. His smiles, a joy contagious, changed people, were his reward. The head nurse couldn’t understand why Mike was so glad when no flowers, calls or cards came, not a visitor he had. Staying by his bed, the minister voiced the nurse’s concern. No friends came to show they cared. He had nowhere to turn.
Looking surprised, old Mike spoke up and with a winsome smile.
“The nurse is wrong. She couldn’t know that he’s in here all the while. Every day at noon he’s here, a dear friend of mine, you see. He sits right down, takes my hand, leans over and says to me, ‘I just came again to tell you, Mike, how happy I’ve been, since we found this friendship and I took away your sin. I always love to hear you pray. I think about you every day. And so, Mike, this is Jesus checking in today.’”
This article originally published in the November 19, 2012 print edition of The Louisiana Weekly newspaper.