When I was learning to play the piano I had a book of easy Rock music, but I had a problem with rhythms. The only one I could play was “Walk… Don’t Run”. Later as a mother I often said, “Walk. Don’t run” to my son, who grew inches at a time and was always klutzy before each growth spurt. But the funniest walk… don’t run moment came at work.
Let me set the scene for you. I was the Director of Nursing at a nursing home just outside a small town. The building was surrounded by farmer’s fields on three sides; in the front was a two lane road with more fields on the other side. Town was three miles away. No bus service; no affordable taxi service. Definitely out in the country.
Now meet Fred. The VA Hospital contracted with us to care for some of their men with chronic mental illnesses like Fred, who was in his 50’s. Periodically, Fred would announce that he was leaving. We didn’t worry about that unless he put on his plaid, polyester sport coat. He would layer as many shirts as he could put on and add his sport coat; then he would watch for a moment when everyone was busy. He had a lot of patience and would wait for hours for his chance to escape. The best time would have been at mealtime, but Fred never missed a meal. He never tried leaving in bad weather, either.
When that sports coat came out of his closet, the entire staff was put on alert- everyone was to watch for the escapee. Usually Fred didn’t even make it to the road, except one day…
Fred was slowly jogging down the middle of the road heading for town when they paged me. Taking a male nursing assistant with me, we headed down the road after Fred.
“Ms. Connie, I’ll go get him;” said Tom, my football player size nursing assistant.
“No, I don’t want to force him back. I can call the police for assistance, if needed. If we can catch up to him, I think I can talk into coming back.”
“I’ll get him and hold him ‘til you catch up!” Tom eagerly offered.
“No. Just call him and get his attention.”
We tried persuading him to return, but Fred kept walking- backwards so he could talk to us. My slow jog had turned into a walk so once again Tom offered to run and get him. Well, this short, chubby, gray-haired, out-of-shape nurse was red-faced and fading fast. Huffing and puffing, I tried again to convince Fred to come back. But I couldn’t walk and talk at the same time.
“Ms. Connie, what’s the matter?” Fred shouted.
“I (huff and puff) can’t (huff and puff) breathe,” I replied as I stopped to catch my breath. Leaning over with my hands above my knees I heard Tom laugh. I looked up to say it wasn’t funny, but Tom was looking down the road.
Fred was running towards me!
Putting his arm around my shoulder Fred said, “It’s okay, I’ll help you back. Just walk… don’t run. You’ll be okay.”
Fred never figured out that his sport coat was our clue; but he promised next time he’d walk- not run so I could breathe.
A funny memory? Yes, but even more it reminds me that as a Christian I need to avoid getting ahead of God. One writer wrote, “When you feel like God has left you, look behind you- you may have left Him behind.” When we rush ahead, God lets us see the consequences; when we stay with Him, we are safe and will receive His guidance.
Lord, remind us as often as necessary to walk with You and not to run ahead. Protect us, guide us. and show us Your direction for our lives. In Christ’s name, Amen.
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