no win situation

image courtesy of photobucket,com

At the age I am now, right or wrong, I generally figure I’ve pretty much seen it all. Things rarely happen in my life that take me by surprise. When the unexpected happens, I react without too much emotion. I’ve usually been there, done that, bought the hat…

Occasionally, though, I get thrown the analogical curveball or change up. Even then, with years of practical experience dealing with surprises, I’m rarely left struggling with what the right course of action to take might be.

That was not the rare case this particular Sunday. It was a no-win situation. While out of town we found a friendly little church a few years back while on vacation. We try to make it a point to attend if we have time between travels even now.

We were sitting about four rows back on the south side of the church closest to the front door, which is typically my style. There were only a couple of rows behind us. Several minutes after the service started a very elderly man shuffled into the church, having a more legitimate use for a cane than anybody I’ve witnessed.

As the late comer eyed the seat directly in front of me, he hobbled, lost a bit of balance and bumped into me, helping to keep him upright. The elderly gentleman settled into the seat directly in front of me.

I knew that my new neighbor wasn’t going to be doing any standing for praying or singing… The old guy knew everyone. When the worship leader invited everyone to greet one another, I think every single person in the church came by to greet him.

Though frail, I can’t remember a person singing with as much enthusiasm as the old timer. I’m not sure if the old guy knew he couldn’t carry a tune in a bucket or not. I’m pretty sure it wouldn’t have mattered to him one way or the other. Just one of the gifts of being very elderly, I’ve heard.

The old fella had long, past his shoulders scraggly hair extending from the sides of his head with a worn, sun-spotted, round, bald spot on top. When I shook his hand during the greeting portion of the service I found he lacked no grip strength.

During the middle of the service, while glancing either down or up, to or from my Bible, something caught my eye on the old guy’s faded black windbreaker. I first thought it was a fly. It quickly crawled from under his collar, just above his left shoulder, and as I saw it- then did a double take, it moved quickly around the top of the old guy’s back and over his right shoulder, where it disappeared from my view.

After it was out of sight I realized what it was… It was black, about a size and a half bigger than a horse fly with short, quick, legs. It was hard to spot immediately due to its color and my mind not expecting it… It was a black spider…

There I was, at a loss for what to do or how to react. It was a foreign feeling to me now. I knew the spider wasn’t a black widow, but I wasn’t completely positive it wasn’t poisonous.

In a church where no one knows me, I’m not sure how they would have reacted if I’d got up and announced something like, “OK”!!! – “TIME OUT”!!! – “I’ve spotted a black spider on the old guy in front of me”!!! – “I think you’ll find the culprit hiding under his collar”!!!

Their first thought would possibly have been that I was some kind of demon possessed weirdo. What if they searched and the spider had got away? They certainly would have asked me to leave with my family!

I thought about using my bulletin as a spider swatter, but what if I slapped a little too hard and broke a bone on the old guy? No – That wouldn’t do. Even if I slapped at him to shoo the spider away it may have startled the old guy and caused him to have a heart attack!

This was a no-win proposition. What did I do? … I didn’t do anything except keep an eye out for the church going spider…

Then I prayed for the old man’s protection…

It’s all I could think of. Maybe that’s the problem with many of us…

We wait until there’s nothing else to do, but pray…