I stepped in to the hospital room to visit my friend Kevin, who had had some major surgery earlier in the week. When I walked in, Kevin’s wife was there, along with two other men, a woman and a small child, standing around the bed and talking. I didn’t recognize any of the strangers, but from the conversation, Kevin knew them well enough. Neighbors? I stood back, waved at Kevin, and listened in.
Kevin laid in bed in his pajamas and hospital gown. He was energetic and interested, in a much better mood than the last time I had seen him two days before, drugged to reduce the pain and silent.
M., Kevin’s wife, introduced me to the group. Soon enough the conversation wound down to a close and the group made ready to leave. Then one of the men looked at M., expectantly, and M. said, “They wanted to pray for you before they leave.”
Kevin nodded and held out his hands on either side of the bed, and M. and the other adults joined, by their hands, into a circle.
I stayed back from the rest of the group, suddenly amused. One of the men looked at me, encouragingly, his hand open for me to join in. I kept my hands at my side.
It was an awkward moment.
Until Kevin said, “Brian doesn’t pray,” in a friendly, not challenging, voice.
The rest of them nodded and then proceeded to ignore me and one of the men then spoke to his God, asking for His help in healing Kevin from the disease and injury that Kevin had… somehow… contracted and which required surgical intervention.
They were oblivious to the irony.