I didn’t know him.
Not really, anyway. We were Facebook friends, but only in the technical sense of the word. He would occasionally comment on a post I had written or shared. He did it often enough that I knew his name, but I doubt I ever reciprocated. I certainly don’t remember doing it.
So when the Facebook message came through, it took me by surprise.
“Dear Pastor Hugh, I have followed you for some time and benefit from your blogs and comments and thoughts and photos. I am 76 YO who is winding down on the cancer clock, currently in [the hospital]. In the next couple of weeks or so I will be going home under hospice care until the end comes at home.
I am Jewish with a broad spectrum of ecumenical interests – to me, good loving hearted people are what they are not by organized religion but because our G-d intended it to be so. Once I am home… I would like you to drop by for a chat and a coffee if you can work it into your schedule.”
I replied almost immediately, and told him that I was leaving town soon, but that I would love to come to visit him, and to please let me know when he gets home.
I never heard from him.
Yesterday his daughter posted on his profile that he passed away, at home, surrounded by his family. The last thing he posted on Facebook was a YouTube video of the song Hallelujah, covered by Pentatonix.
I have been thinking about this a lot over the last 24 hours. I don’t know what would make an observant Jew who had friends and family who obviously cared for him reach out to me, a street-scarred Mennonite minister who is often the pastor of last resort for folks who can’t do religion anymore, but whatever it was, I hope he found it before he transitioned over.
And whatever it was that I did that signaled to him I was safe to reach out to?
I hope I do more of that.