I remember her kindness like it was yesterday. The public demise of my marriage left me reeling. I was not enough. Those words echoed in my head like a litany, and I felt like a conspicuous failure.
Hiding in plain sight
It was only natural that I sought out the most remote, least-used restroom for a quick stop between Sunday School and church. Miss Geri soon found that same potty-place behind the kitchen, and we became “bathroom buddies.”
The widow of our former pastor, she was not like any pastor’s wife I’d ever known. Beautiful, elegant, Miss Geri had the most dashing way with clothes. Even then, I longed to be as cool and nice as she.
The gift of kindness
Miss Geri was well-liked, spirited, and funny. She never failed to remember my name, greet me with a happy smile, and ask if my “silly husband” had “gotten his mind back.” To my sheepish, “Well, no,” she would wave her hand, laugh, and exclaim, “Pooh on him, then!” It sounded so funny coming from this lovely older lady that I always laughed.
She patted my cheek and called me beautiful. “He must be blind and dumb,” she always said. By the time I made my way to “big church”, I had a genuine smile.
The Balm of Gilead in an unlikely place
I tend to think of pastor’s wives as being doers of good deeds, and she probably did her share. The good deeds she performed in that potty-place, though, were little known, but ones I will never forget.
Miss Geri knew my name, and she used it, every time. She gave me acceptance when I needed it more than I can now imagine. She offered me humor, and hope, and love. I didn’t realize it then, but she poured out the balm of Gilead and turned that little bathroom into a chapel of healing.
Eventually, she moved from our town to be closer to her children, and I missed her terribly. A few years ago, she moved to her eternal home. I imagine heaven (admittedly too marvelous to imagine) is an even brighter, sweeter place with Miss Geri there.
See a need and meet it
When I grow up (which should have been a few decades ago) I want to be just like Miss Geri. She only pretended to discover the bathroom about the same time I did, of course. She’d been in our church for years. It was no surprise to her. Miss Geri saw a need, followed it into the little potty-place, and met it with such grace and kindness that it took me years to realize she had come in just for me.
After she went to heaven, I wondered if there was anyone to take her place. Who follows needs into the potty-place now? Who pours out the balm of Gilead with every fiber of their being? I wish I could say it’s always me, but it’s not. Women like her are few, and far between.
Kindness is a job we can all embrace, and should. Why not be the Miss Geri to those in need around us? Humor, hope, and love. The unbeatable combination brought healing in the most unlikely of places.
“And be kind to one another, tender-hearted, forgiving each other, just as God in Christ also has forgiven you.” Ephesians 4:32
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