I don’t want to wither!
I left my husband and the comfort of our house to walk through the local flea market and then drive to the train. I told Richie I would check out the vendors at the bottom of Walmart mountain and then meet my girlfriend in Boston. Little did I know there would also be two significant men in those locations, and my life, that day.
The flea market is an eclectic place to find hidden treasures but when you don’t see anything you like, it’s all junk. I was feeling like the latter when I got to the last row. That’s where I was called out. A man I didn’t recognize from the auctions I used to attend said hello. I apologized and we chatted as I glanced at the wares on his table. The items were undoubtably what he wasn’t able to sell in three other places or the remaining parts of an auction lot that had already made him a small fortune. The longer we talked, the more compelled I felt to look interested in the heap. I found myself rifling through a box of twisted necklaces, broken hardwares and dirty patches. As I started to turn away, I noticed a small crucifix amongst the nails. The chain was beaten and worn but the crossbeams were a merciful perfect white.
“You like that? Everything’s a buck.”
Of course I loved it. I was just surprised to find it amongst the mess. I also didn’t expect to part with money at Sanfords. His son wasn’t around but now I had God’s in my hand. I gave him a dollar for his company, put Jesus into my jean pocket and headed toward the Freedom Trail in Boston.
Once at North Station, I walked to Faneuil Hall and realized it was too early to meet my friend. Rather than cross over to City Hall, I continued my walk into Downtown Crossing. I meandered into a stationery store but decided to keep moving instead. I went back outside, turned the corner and was stopped in my tracks. I was like a deer in the headlights when I saw a man near the street lamp.
Our eyes met as I quite simply said, “Hi!”
We set off an exchange with one another that wasn’t just pleasantries and idle talk about the weather. Both were already apparent by meeting in the summer sunshine. I only acknowledged his cup of coins when it was no longer a barrier between us.
The spare dollar in my pocket remained as I said, “I don’t usually give cash to people in the street.”
He did, too, as he gratefully accepted my granola bar instead.
“What brought you here today?”
With full accountability, “I brought myself here. I do have a sister I could stay with, I did for awhile too, but she just doesn’t understand.”
“The grief over losing my mother.”
“Well, was it her mother too?”
“Yeah, but she carried on. I haven’t been able to function. I since lost my job and now my apartment. I could stay with my sister but that’s just not fair, I gotta figure it out myself, ‘ya know?”
“No, I don’t. That must be hard for her to accept. I think you are both really brave.”
“BRAVE?!”, he raised his voice and curled his eyebrows but I was not afraid.
His contorted face was suddenly sad as he added, “I haven’t been brave since I lost my cross out here. That’s when it got really hard.”
My heart softened even more, “Would you like another?”
“Another cross? Yeah, some day.”
“I think it’s today. There’s a cross in my pocket. Can I put it on you?”
He was a believer and even moreso when he saw it in my hand.
I didn’t know what else to say or do until he took off his hat and bowed his head.
I put a cross around this man’s neck.
He looked at me and asked if I knew the Bible?
“No. I was raised Catholic but am just starting to read parts of it myself.”
“I like the Psalms.” he offered.
“I know they provide great comfort. Do you know St. Anthony’s shrine?” My brother had shown me years before and I sometimes visited when I was in the city. “It is also a place of comfort and they serve sandwiches on certain days and times.”
He knew of another shelter with food but had never heard of the shrine.
I told him what it was near as I pointed this lost man in the direction of St. Anthony. I admitted both that I had to leave and that I didn’t even know his name?
He picked up his dirty bag and as we departed and said, “Michael.”
His name was Michael.
It means, ‘A gift from God’.
I was present the day Flea Market met Downtown Crossing. I’d left my husband to meet a girlfriend but also listened to people along the way. I was enriched by a man with junk and comforted by another that didn’t even have a home.
Offered to Jesus is called
The most desirable fruit often comes from the most severe pruning by the masters hand.
God isn’t finished with me yet
The sunbeam awaits
A heart at peace gives life to the body.
There are quotes in our lives that we all recognize, favor or hold dear. The hard part is trying to embrace them on a daily basis. Today I learned that living them doesn’t have to be difficult.
“Do small things with great love. ”
Think of all the prayers people pray every day. Only a small number of those prayers require God’s direct involvement or intervention. The other prayers are not unanswered, they are just waiting for us. Ordinary people like you and me that can merely pause to recognize other people’s needs and pain. Listen, ask for guidance and help answer their prayers.
“Be the change you want to see in this world.”
Inspired by: Rediscover Jesus, Matthew Kelly