An empty chair

(The following story has been told in many different ways by many different people. This is as it was told to me)

A story has been told of an old man dying in a hospital room. Let’s call him Elmo.  

Elmo’s long time pastor and friend came to visit him.

The pastor noticed a chair right next to Elmo’s hospital bed and went to sit in it.

Elmo shook his head no.

In his raspy voice Elmo said,’You can’t sit there. That chair is for God.’

Seeing the pastor’s bewildered face, Elmo continued to speak.

‘You see, I used to have trouble praying. I’m not an educated man and my prayers never sounded like other people’s prayers. I shared this trouble with my father. His advice – take an empty chair, imagine God sitting in it, and talk to Him just as easy as you talk to me. So, that’s what I did and have been doing it ever since.’

Profoundly moved, the pastor grabbed Elmo’s hand and ask Elmo to pray for him. After the amen, the pastor hugged Elmo and left for home.

That night Elmo died.

When the pastor met with Elmo’s daughter, he asked about Elmo’s passing.

She responded, ‘It was the strangest thing. I stepped out of the room to speak to a nurse and he died while I was away. When I returned, Dad’s head was resting on the seat of the chair next to his bed.’


I just finished watching Renaissance Man. A quote from one of the soldiers caught my ear. ‘I understand why the gravedigger said he started digging Hamlet’s grave the day Hamlet was born. Because the day we are born is the same day we start dying.’

On that day, the day we die, where will your head be resting? Where will my head be resting? Where will my husband’s head…my daughters head…my nephews head….

May our heads rest,
 our bodies be at ease

 when we lift our faces 

and believe.
May this be true. 

Not just on our final day, but on everyday in between.



•Selah is a term used in the book of Psalms in the Bible that some believe means to pause and reflect


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