The most powerful lessons I have learned in life have come from our homeless brothers and sisters that struggle to survive. They say that summer is the hardest because of the mosquito’s, bugs and the heat…people are more compassionate in the winter.
Early one morning, I dropped off copies of a newspaper article that I had written about a local shelter. As I was leaving, I almost closed the door on a lady and her husband that were homeless. I was horrified. As she walked up to the door, my mind was blank. No special thoughts. She looked me up and down. She admired my denim skirt, orange sweater and brown leather boots. And, she imagined something…and I wanted her to have it all. In those few seconds, the door that separated cold benches from tables in the gym would shut. Her wide-eyed fear exposed her frigid reality. They had no home…so every door meant so much more. I grabbed the door just in time and held it open for them. And, as she passed I prayed God would give her what her heart just desired.
She taught me to look in other places. But sometimes the blessing is found in the least likely place…and from the last person expected. The grave was the last place I thought to look. And, certainly the last place I expected to find anything. My long-time friend died. He was a bachelor so he kinda could live here and there with a bunch of guys. In his last days, he didn’t exactly live in an upscale neighborhood. He lived in a rooming house with those people that go to that bar down there…and do those things – all the time. I had only seen ‘David’ a few weeks ago and then he suddenly died. I knew he didn’t look right…he was skinny but this time he just looked different. So, I was in total denial. I screamed, ‘This isn’t true.’ Then, I drove over to the rooming house and knocked on his door and demanded that he come out.
Crying, screaming, ‘David’ come out, come out…no answer. He was dead. Everyone in the rooming house was high. The skinny crack-head girl with the ratty blonde hair she came out first. The other three guys they just looked at each other, but kept their pipes in their hands. The girl walked over like she was in slow motion. She gently took my hand off the door, put my hand in hers, and said, ‘He’s not in there anymore, he’s gone.’ And, she hugged me. This complete stranger’s compassion overwhelmed my weeping weary soul. I don’t ever recall feeling that much love from a stranger…not even in church.
The other guys came out and everyone helped me downstairs and stayed with me for a while. They dried my tears, hugged me, calmed my spirit, encouraged me, and told me how they too would miss ‘David.’ They did and said all the right things. There was profound sadness, unexplained joy, sorrow, mourning and love. In the last place, at the wrong time…I received the most…from the least of these.