Sunday, April 27, 2008


Several years ago I got to know a lady at our church named Hazel. (Not her real name... which I've changed, as they say, in order to protect her privacy.) Hazel was from New Jersey and she had a raspy "Jersey" accent. People thought Hazel was a bit odd, but I thought she was cool… in an eccentric sort of way.

When I first met Hazel she had one of her eyelids sown shut as a result of a recent surgery. She had to wear big, wrap-around sunglasses… they looked like welders goggles... to protect her eyes when she went out. Her husband, Earl, did the driving.

In another church, when she was younger, Hazel did cleaning around the church building. Hazel always had a healthy interest in what was going on with the church folks… and part of her cleaning ritual was to do an after-hours survey of the minister’s desk to see what juicy tidbits she might pick-up. The preacher would show up the next day and everything would still be on his desk, but in a different place.

One time Hazel showed up to clean and learned there would be a meeting later in the evening. The meeting was to take place in the minister’s study and it was to discuss important church business. So what did Hazel do… but hide in the closet of the study to see what she might hear. Apparently her claustrophobia got the best if her, because Hazel came stumbling out of the closet in the middle of the meeting. Hazel nodded at the startled minister and the others who’d gathered… and then headed out of the room to resume her cleaning.

People at our church liked Hazel… they just thought she was odd. Most folks hadn't heard the story of Hazel falling out of the closet in the minister’s study. It was probably best they hadn’t, as that would most likely have caused someone to back away from this little woman who needed people so much. (How would you react to having your eye lid sewn shut? People gawking at you… it would make you feel weirder than you probably already did about yourself.)

My wife Susan and I will lie in bed at night and talk about church. I think I'm one of the oddest people I know... but I’d like to believe I’d fit in at a church somewhere, and could just be myself.

Maybe I should get me a pair of dark wrap-around glasses like Hazel used to wear. That way I can protect my secret identify.