Sunday, May 6, 2012

Haunted

I can't tell you how old this man is....all I can tell you is that I seem to see him once a week or so during the school year. He stands silently in front of the student union with  his shaggy hair and  long beard. He carries signs, and pamphlets, with things like "Yahweh is the way" "Do not be persuaded by false gods," and scripture verses from Romans. He drives an old grey truck, covered in bumper stickers that say the same thing- I saw him passing through my neighborhood as he was leaving campus one day.

At first, when I saw him, it made me scared and uncomfortable - I've had more than my fair share of bad experiences with Christians, especially the Evangelical and Pentecostal flavored ones. So I'd duck my head and  make a wide, cautious circle around him to avoid any chance of being handed a pamphlet

 One day, it dawned on me. "He must really love Jesus, to stand here, every day, holding this sign." I quit walking so far out of my way to avoid him, and then, I started whispering a prayer- just "God, you know him. Be with him." I started having crazy visions of asking him to grab a cup of coffee with me. A couple weeks ago, as I was running late to a meeting in the library, I screwed up enough courage to make eye contact, and smile at him (yes, I am that much of an introvert). He smiled back, and the smile lit up his whole face- somehow, I knew  he was just glad he had been seen. 

I don't know how this story ends. All I can say is that I hope, one day, to offer him that cup of coffee, and to ask him about his story. I'm not the sort of person who talks to strangers easily - my friendships begin cautiously and slowly. But this man loves my Father, and that makes him part of my family - this crazy, mixed up family that is the church, holy and catholic (yes. Lowercase c here). That knowledge is changing me. 

And that's all I have to say...that I am haunted by this man, who looks crazy, but who I know deeply needs God's love. And that I'm learning how bad I am at simply giving God's love to others. I have come to see Jesus in him....and so far, I've been able to do nothing but cry and pray.

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