Father Michael, is it time for communion?" Janine, the woman sitting in the front row of our church, asks for the third time while the pastor (not a priest and not Michael) tries to finish his sermon.
"Not yet, Janine," the pastor says. "Just a few more minutes."
"Oh, not until the music starts?"
"Right, not until the music starts."
All I know about Janine definitively is that she lives in a group home down the street. She has been coming to our church a few months. During most of the service, she's usually either in the coffee room working on a plate of pastries or in the bathroom clogging up a toilet with several complimentary tampons from the shelf under the mirror.
An Unwanted Assignment
"About Janine? What do you guys think?" Brett, who heads our hospitality ministry, looks briefly at each of us in the meeting.
"Well, for starters, we need to hide the tampons in the women's bathroom," someone points out.
"What do we know about her disability or her situation?" another person asks. "I worry when she eats five pastries in one sitting. What if she's diabetic? What if she gets sick?"
My eyes start to twitch. I fold my hands in my lap. I cross and uncross my legs.
My ministry partners have great points. Safety is important. Plumbing is generally considered essential in a public building. I blink, hoping no one notices the tears pool in my eyes. I am not thinking about Janine's health or safety. Another thought chases everything else out of my mind: Ask her care facility to keep her home on Sunday mornings.1