Most days start with the same flutter …rise , pray, write, get the kids out of the door and pointed to the school bus, mug of coffee to jumpstart things and then off into the world of men. How could I have known this day would be so different…the best day ever?
One clue would have been that our 6 year old, who was feeling ill the night before, needed one more day. One more in a day filled with appointments and pre-made plans. It’s seems life is like that…figuring out how to fit in that one more thing.
My wife had a full day scheduled, practicing her skills at the CNA classes she has been attending. In the mix was a maintenance Doctors appointment for me. So I was with Jake and his Mom at the school until the very last minute.
There is never a short cut in public transportation. I found myself in Downtown Minneapolis, trying to get to St. Louis Park. If you’ve ever been at the Nicolett Mall on a Thursday you know that there is a farmer’s market there. It seemed everybody was out enjoying the crisp Autumn like air. One of my favorite features of downtown are the street musicians. As passed I scratched in my pocket for change to toss in the bucket, wondering what it must be like to “eek” out a living playing music on the street. I came up with 3 pennies. I thought, “is it worth it?” I tossed them in and walked to the bus stop. It was all I could do.
As I waited on my connection I noticed a homeless man with a tiny baby blanket trying to stay warm behind his money cup and cardboard sign. I felt bad because I had just given my last 3 cents to a trumpet player. Then it occured to me…I went over to this man, introduced myself and told him, “I have no money but you can have this.”, sliding my favorite hoodie off of my back and wrapping it over his shoulders. It was as if someone had turned a light on in a dark room. “Really?!”, he smiled. I said, “Yes! Really. Maybe you will be a bit warmer. It’s all I can do….”
My doctor’s appointment went without incident. It was like a tune-up. Hopefully not for winter storage (if you know what I mean. **wink wink**).
Winding my way back home, I get off the bus to make another connection, just as an extremely intoxicated man falls off the bench onto his face. Had it not been for his aviator glasses, there would have been blood. I picked him up with the help of some bystanders and sat him back on the bench. I put my hand on his shoulder, mostly to keep him there, and listened to his story. He was a political refugee who came to the U.S. only to lose his wife to death and wondering how his life got so shattered and if he would end up in hell. I reminded him to lean back, not forward. It would help him stay on the bench. And I said, “My friend it looks to me like you are already in hell”. A man seated to the far end of the bench, looked on and agreed.
The drunken man, George, said he believed in God and Mary…that he was Catholica. I let him know that I was Catholica too. I told him, “look…if you believe in Him, you should talk to Him and not to a bottle, take your problems to Jesus and not to a bar.” Far End Man agreed too. During our”conversation” he somehow speed dialed a friend AND had her on speakerphone as well. “Hello….Hello….”. George was oblivious. So I suggest he “call a friend” to come get him. Far End Man laughed. George then reaches out to touch my chest. He slurs, “let me touch you..let me touch you…you are an angel.” I tell him that if he truly knew me he wouldn’t be saying that. Far End man laughs again.
After a few minutes I asked him, “Hey George, can I borrow your phone?”. He gave it to me and I called the last number dialed. It turned out that this woman was his significant other, and that she wanted him either to go to a police station or into detox. I gave him back his phone and, though it pained me, I went to a pay phone and dialed 911. At least I knew they would get him off the street and to professional help at best,, or a lock up in the drunk tank for 72 hours at worst. It was all I could do.
I came home and posted to my Facebook wall…
“I gave my last three pennies to a street musician, gave my favorite hoodie to a homeless man in a blanket, and helped an extremely intoxicated man get up off the sidewalk and get into detox…I spent the day cold, poor,and human also. Some days are just amazing like that.”
So I guess the old saying is true. “God doesn’t need our ability…only our availability”.
It’s all I could do…