Today as I sat under the shade of a leafy tree, a live band played my favourite kind of music (acid jazz/funk) on a stage in front of me. The cool breeze was on my face, the sun peaked through the tree’s branches just enough to keep me warm, the crystal water glistened as the boats glided across the bay, the soft clouds created patterns and textures like I’ve never seen before, the eagle soared high in the sky, I thanked God for this blessing.
To my left I noticed two men walking across to the tree I was under. They sat down to share its shade. One of the men, eyes barely open, stumbled as he tried to get comfortable on the grass, beer bottle tucked under his arm, cigarette in his mouth. The other man, much more alert, seemed excited to hear the band as he lit up a ciggie and layed down on the grass propping his head in his hand. This man was strangely familiar to me, even though I knew I had never seen him before. His skin was golden, wrinkly and leathered from too much sun, his hair, a sandy brown was pulled from his face in a pony tail. His hands looked rough, as though they had seen many years of hard labour, his frame was small, his clothes were dirty. He smiled a vacant, toothless smile that spoke of sadness and hardship, and revealed a longing for joy, love, and peace. The men passed the treasured beer bottle, disguised in a plastic bag back and forth between them carefully, so as to go unoticed by police, or anyone else that may report them.
I acknowledged them with a smile, and continued to enjoy the music and the beauty surrounding me. The band introduced their next song, one of their originals titled ‘lost’. The ‘familiar’ man looked up and proclaimed, just loud enough for me to hear “this song must be written about me!” He then chuckled defensively, throwing a blanket of humour over his words to cover the sorrow of their truth. In an instant my heart broke. I know this man. I have seen him on the street corner, the park bench, in the pub at nine in the morning. I have seen him amongst my friends, I have dated him. I know this man… He is in my family, this man was me. In the moment, I prayed for wisdom. Should I say something? Or should I ignore the mans perhaps accidental exposure of his darkest truth? Sadly, I chose the latter. Shortly after I bid him farewell, and wished him a good day.
For the rest of the day I thought of this man. I looked for him again later in the day, but he was gone. Now something compelled me to speak with him. But it was too late. I missed my chance. I am disappointed, I am sad, but I am not going to beat myself up about it, because I know this man, and I am sure you do too. He is lost, and afraid, and needs your love. He does not need your judgment, your pity or your anger. Next time I see this man, I will not turn away. I will trust that when I open my mouth in faith, God will speak through me in all His wisdom and pour out His unconditional love this man needs so desperately. With our hearts filled with the love of Christ, anything is possible. We just have to trust. I was lost, but not anymore because now I know the truth. If you, or someone you know is lost, reach out. Don’t be afraid that you do not have the answers, or that you don’t know what to say… Just open your heart and show them God’s unconditional love, which He has placed in all our hearts, whether you believe it or not.
God bless you.
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