This week I became friends with a patient who was in for about a week due to a chronic condition. His Mom came at night to be with him, but during the day she had to work so he was on his own for several hours. Nurses and staff did their best to check in on him, and Child Life workers brought him art projects and games to occupy him. The hospital has its own “TV Station” that broadcasts different shows, many of which are interactive. The kids stuck in their rooms can call in an participate. If they win something, one of the volunteers runs upstairs with their prize. All this is to say he kept busy, but it also became a chance for me to spend some time with him talking and sharing Godly Play stories.
I shared the Good Shepherd first, and he helped move the figures and afterwards played out several different scenarios. He was especially struck by the dangerous places and shared with me some stories about his school that would make your hair stand on end. His condition is serious, so he spoke about worrying about death a good bit.
Later in the week I checked back in on him and discovered he was feeling much better. He had been out and about during the day, visiting the play room and more. He had been given a game system to play with and had some new games he was excited to show me. They thought he might go home the next day.
This time I had the Ark and Flood with me in my “chaplain bag” and I asked him if he would like me to tell it to him. We cleared a space on his bed and I laid out the big brown underlay and began. He helped move the figures again, and when I skipped the part about the raven and said, “Wait, wasn’t there a raven?” This boy knows his Bible stories. At the end we wondered about the story. He loved the end when everything was ready for a new start, but he thought the flood was the most important part….or maybe when God came close to Noah. That is after all how Noah knew he should build the ark in the first place. I said, “I wonder if you have ever felt God come close?” He said, “When you come to visit.”
At the end when I was putting things back in my bag he picked up the ark. He really loved how smooth it is and commented on how heavy it is. I said, “You know, I know the guy who makes those. His name is Mike. He would love to see you playing with it.” He asked about Mike – where he makes the arks and where he lives. Then he said, “You know this ark is such a safe boat…its too bad Jesus didn’t have it.” I said, “What would Jesus do with it?” He said, “He could have hid in it when they were looking for him to kill him. It would have been perfect.” I said, “It is a very safe boat.” He then reluctantly handed it to me so I could put it back in the bag.
I left him with some paper and crayons and suggested he might like to make something about how the story felt to him. I think he probably just fired up the Xbox and began to explore his new games. However, I know that for a little while God came so close to both of us, and we came so close to God…it was a holy time and place. Thank you Mike for your beautiful boat!