For several years I worked every Saturday as a triage nurse in a large home care organization. I worked with two other nurses and through the course of our working together we got to know each other well. While Saturday mornings were always crazy with the calls of patients in need, Saturday afternoons would calm down and we would inevitably begin talking and sharing our lives.
Dianna was one of those nurses. Our back grounds had almost no similarities, but we communicated beyond those dissimilarities, developing a friendship that wasn’t bound to agreement. Dianna was raised in Revere in a large working class Italian family. She had never left Massachusetts and her family all lived within a 10 mile radius. Dianna had a difficult life. Her voice and teeth were aged from years of smoking and her pretty face bore the hard scars of disappointment and disillusionment. Men had come and gone like the seasons in her life and when I met her, there was no one.
I loved Dianna. We talked about everything from shaving legs to premarital sex to faith. It was Dianna who taught me that it wasn’t my razor that was the problem with my nubby legs ….”It’s your technique!” she said, convinced that my legs would be smoother if I followed her method. She was right.
It is a challenge to communicate across the boundaries of faith. Faith is worn privately; it’s rarely up for discussion, let alone challenge. Where as in Muslim countries I can begin a discussion on faith within minutes of meeting someone (and if I don’t bring it up, the other person surely will!) here in the Northeast it’s seen as something private, a cultural taboo of sorts and not one I readily cross.
Dianna had long since given up on formal and informal faith. It just wasn’t worth it. The years of hurt from people who were close to her had taken their toll and her trust was gone. It was during one of our many talks on faith that I said to her one of the truest things I’ve communicated across these faith boundaries. We were talking about men, and how they can’t be trusted and somehow it then moved on to God, and then it moved to Jesus. “If Jesus were here” I said “He would take you out for the best drink you’ve ever had, and he’d ask you to tell him about your life. Best of all – he’d pay” That’s exactly what I believe he would have done.
Just as the Samaritan woman in the gospel story met a man who was like no other and gave her a drink like no other, so it would be for Dianna. I believe that with every bone in my body. I’m not sure where readers are on any given day, whether the joys of life are bursting or whether the difficulties in life are binding, but I do know if you’ve lost trust or faith, if Jesus was here, he’d take you out and give you the best drink and time you’ve ever had, and he’d pay.