2050) Leslie (part one of three)

LUKE 8:26-39–  26 They sailed to the region of the Gerasenes, which is across the lake from Galilee. 27 When Jesus stepped ashore, he was met by a demon-possessed man from the town.  For a long time this man had not worn clothes or lived in a house, but had lived in the tombs. 28 When he saw Jesus, he cried out and fell at his feet, shouting at the top of his voice, “What do you want with me, Jesus, Son of the Most High God?  I beg you, don’t torture me!” 29 For Jesus had commanded the impure spirit to come out of the man.  Many times it had seized him, and though he was chained hand and foot and kept under guard, he had broken his chains and had been driven by the demon into solitary places.

30 Jesus asked him, “What is your name?”

“Legion,” he replied, because many demons had gone into him. 31 And they begged Jesus repeatedly not to order them to go into the Abyss.

32 A large herd of pigs was feeding there on the hillside.  The demons begged Jesus to let them go into the pigs, and he gave them permission. 33 When the demons came out of the man, they went into the pigs, and the herd rushed down the steep bank into the lake and was drowned.

34 When those tending the pigs saw what had happened, they ran off and reported this in the town and countryside, 35 and the people went out to see what had happened.  When they came to Jesus, they found the man from whom the demons had gone out, sitting at Jesus’ feet, dressed and in his right mind; and they were afraid. 36 Those who had seen it told the people how the demon-possessed man had been cured. 37 Then all the people of the region of the Gerasenes asked Jesus to leave them, because they were overcome with fear.  So he got into the boat and left.

38 The man from whom the demons had gone out begged to go with him, but Jesus sent him away, saying, 39 “Return home and tell how much God has done for you.”  So the man went away and told all over town how much Jesus had done for him.


     Leslie was only in his 50’s when he became a resident of the local nursing home in 1965.  There was nothing wrong with him physically.  I remember seeing him walking all over town.  But there was something else wrong, and you could tell that as soon as you tried talking to him.  If you attempted a conversation with Leslie, he would not answer you.  He would not even look at you.  And he always looked sad, really sad, with his head hanging low.  I never once saw him smile.

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     My mother was working at that nursing home at the time, in charge of activities.  It was her job to find things for the residents to do or make– but Leslie never wanted to do anything.  He was totally disconnected from everyone and everything around him.  His last name was the same as my mother’s maiden name, so I asked if he was a relative.  She said yes, we were distantly related somehow way back.  But Leslie’s family had moved to a different town many years ago and they did not stay in touch.  My grandfather said he used to know something of the family, and he knew that Leslie wasn’t always so withdrawn.  Something happened when Leslie was a young man, though grandpa did not know what it was.

     One day someone donated a rag rug loom to the nursing home activities department.  That was nice, but the large contraption had been disassembled, and arrived as a pile of boards, levers, cords, nuts, and bolts– everything but the assembly instructions.  And no one there knew how to put rag rug looms together.  So it there sat for a few weeks, taking up space in the corner.  When Leslie happened to wander through and saw the pile of parts, he stopped and looked at it for a long time.  And then, he put it together.  Whatever Leslie’s problem was, it was not lack of intelligence.  My mother knew where to get rolls of sewn together rags to make the rugs, and when she gave them to Leslie, he figured out how to do it.  And for the rest of his life, Leslie made rag rugs—hundreds, perhaps even thousands.

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Rag Rug Loom and Rug

     But Leslie never came out of his self-imposed shell, and remained the same broken down old man.  Eventually, Leslie died.  That was about 40 years ago.  There was no family to call.  No one had ever come to visit him.  So the nursing home staff arranged for a small funeral service and then a county burial at a local cemetery.  Pall bearers were staff members or spouses.  My mother enlisted my dad to be one of the pall bearers, and after they left Leslie’s body at the cemetery, it was the end of the story.  There was no one to put up a marker, and no one to even think about Leslie or remember him—until a couple months ago.  (continued…)