The Down Elevator

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERALeaving the hospital with my father-in-law just now, we shared an elevator down with an evangelical/Bible Church preacher. I’ve done enough hospital visits over twenty years to be able to pick them out.

He was a short man. A foot shorter than me. Stocky. Built like an NFL linebacker.

How did I know he was an evangelical/Bible Church preacher?

The uniform.

Cheap suit, but impeccable tie and shirt.
Slicked back hair. Incredibly good looking shoes.
But most of all, his Bible.

A huge, thick, immense Bible. Gold-leaf pages. Imitation leather cover.

He was carrying it like Robert Newhouse carried the football; tucked firmly under his forearm, like at any moment he would take off down the halls, stiff-arming opposition in his way.
Or…like it was a weapon.

Which, I sensed in those few seconds, he believes it to be.

Like I said, I immediately picked him out. And on another day, I might have nodded or acknowledged him from my uniform. (Usually jeans and often a golf shirt with the church logo)

But today, I was in the uniform of a hospital patient son-in-law.
Jeans, hat, sweatshirt. Unshaven.

So I didn’t acknowledge him. I just watched.

He didn’t acknowledge us either, so tense and tightly wound was he; so impervious to the sick and wounded all around him, so ready for the elevator door to open so that he could parade down that hall toward the parking lot.

As my father-in-law slowly shuffled down the hall, I watched his figure disappear in front of us, and a paraphrase of one line of scripture popped into my mind:

“Lord, I thank thee that I am not like that evangelical preacher…”

Which, if you know the original story means, of course, that actually I am.

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Eric Folkerth is a minister, musician, author and blogger. He is Senior Pastor of Kessler Park UMC United Methodist Church in Dallas, Texas. Previously, he was pastor at Northaven UMC in Dallas for seventeen years. Eric loves to write on topics of spirituality, social justice, music/art and politics. The entries on this blog reflect that diversity of interests. His passion for social justice goes beyond mere words. He’s been arrested at the White House, defending immigrants and “The Dreamers,” and he’s officiated at same sex weddings in his churches, in defiance of what some believe is Methodist teaching. Eric is an avid blogger and published author, and 2017 recipient of the prestigeous Kuchling Humanitarian Award from Dallas’ Black Tie Dinner. (Human Rights Campaign) Eric has led or co-led hundreds of persons on mission trips around the globe, to places such as Mexico, Haiti, Russia, and Nepal. He has worked with lay persons to build ten homes, and one Community Center, in partnership with Habitat for Humanity of Dallas. He’s a popular preacher, and often tackles challenging issues of social justice in his writings and sermons. His wife, Judge Dennise Garcia, is a State District Judge for Dallas, County. As judge of the 303rd Family District Court, she consistently gets high ratings from area lawyers, and was named “best judge” by The Dallas Observer. First elected in 2004, she was the first Latina ever elected to a county-wide bench in Dallas County, and is currently the longest service district judge in that district. She was re-elected for a fourth term in 2018. They have the world’s best daughter, Maria, and an incredible dog, Daisy. Find links to Eric’s music-related websites, at the top of this site’s navigation menu.

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