After worship it is usually my job to greet people at the side door of the sanctuary as they go into the reception hall for coffee hour. It always takes folks a while to make their way over to shake hands with me, as they often first greet their friends and others sitting in their pew. This often leaves me standing, for a few moments, all by myself as joyful conversation rings through the sanctuary. One of the first people over to greet me every Sunday is Melva. She will take my hand and say, "You look lonely!" After Melva the line usually starts to move as people make their way to coffee or to pick up their kids from Sunday School.
A week ago Melva left us to take up residence in her heavenly dwelling place. It was cancer that took Melva away from us. She had lived a good, long life, but it was still too soon.
Last Sunday Melva didn't come over to greet me, but another member of the congregation made his way through the crowd to shake my hand. Ray, an elderly man who is legally blind, smiled at me and said, "You look lonely." I'm sure that he did not know that he echoed the words I had heard so often heard from Melva. Yet he was right. I was lonely. Our whole community of faith will be lonely without our wise and witty Melva. Thank you, Ray, for recognizing that and giving it voice. I'm sure I did look lonely.