I wrote an anonymous blog for several years called “Clergy Guy,” and it chronicled my thoughts and struggles. I’ve taken it off line and don’t know what to do with it, but I came across this entry from five years ago that I’ll share with you. It’s about meeting my friend Larry Stevens who goes around the country singing gospel hymns mostly for nursing homes and small churches. I met him when I was exhausted and sad. He was kind to me without knowing any details.
I’ve edited the original post a bit.
December 10, 2013
A guy showed up at the nursing home just as I was about to begin worship time. I thought he was a street person because of the worn clothes and uncut hair, but he explained that he traveled from town to town singing gospel songs to nursing home residents. He showed me his beautiful Martin guitar that a friend gave it to him in support of his ministry. In fact he has several friends who regularly support him in his work.
I was glad he showed up because I was very tired that day and didn’t feel like singing, so I invited him to do his thing.
He played for them for about an hour, singing the old hymns like I do, telling the same really old jokes and stories that I always tell. At the end he went to all the resident, shaking their hands and patting their shoulders, just like I do.
He held the hand of one nursing home resident and beamed into her face, and she looked over at me and said, “Pastor, he’s a lot like you!” I looked again and he did resemble me a little.
After I arranged to have a hotel room provided for him that night, I took him to lunch and bought us hamburgers. While we ate, he asked about my family. I told him we had two teenage boys. He asked if they ever gave me any problems. I said no, that they had been free of trouble, made straight As and always made me proud.
“I wish I could claim credit for them,” I said, “But the truth is that they were born this way.”
I always say that, but this time I went on and told him the rest of the story. “The fact is I haven’t done enough for them. I’ve left them alone too much. I’ve worked too much, and been too tired to do much for them.”
My throat closed and my eyes filled up. I never told anyone that part. He reached up and put his hand on my shoulder without saying anything–the same exact gesture I had done for countless people.
I looked at him some more. He and I shared the same crinkly smile lines around sad eyes. I could see the same dimples that people say I have behind the beard. He was almost the same size as me (which is substantial), and he had an easy manner which is how I appear to most people. He’s even diabetic like me.
It felt like I was looking in a mirror at an image of me that was five years older than I am now. And I got to wondering if he actually was me, sent from the near future to bless me enough to keep me from cracking up….
It is five years later. At the time I thought it might be nice to simply leave my present life and travel down the road singing for people like he did. But in fact our paths have gone separate ways as have our beliefs. I’m hoping that he is happy where he is going, as am I.
This is Larry Stevens and me:
Larry Stevens is still doing his thing only he expanded his travels to include Israel and Australia. He chronicles his travels at https://larryeugenestevens.blogspot.com/