Our beloved Connee Freeman, Conference Co-Lay Leader, has been passionately challenging us to make a difference in the lives of persons who are homeless, hungry, alone. I am inspired by the love that radiates from her when she speaks about taking our faith to the streets. She reminds us that she’s not talking about strangers in our midst but our brothers and sisters.
A few days ago, hungry and too tired to cook at the end of a long day of work I stopped at a grocery store to pick up some prepared food. It was late and dark with a chill in the air. It was so late in fact that I found a parking space right in front of this popular store. As I drove into the parking spot I saw a young man right in front of me. It was as if he came right out of the shadows of nowhere. I felt a bit of apprehension but proceeded to get out of my car, lock it and walk toward the entrance of the store.
As I passed the young man he whispered something that I could not make out. I raised my hand to him in a half greeting but walked on. My response to him didn’t feel good to me so as I ordered a sandwich for myself I ordered one for him as well, hoping that he was still around so that I could truly connect with him.
When I walked out of the store I had to walk out through another door because the door I had walked in through was now closed. Now I was sure I had missed the young man. But, I came out of the store, made a sharp left, ran into the security man and right beyond, there he was!
He was standing under the umbrella of a picnic table having moved from one end of the store front to the other. I asked him if he was hungry. He nodded. I set out the meal I had purchased for him on the picnic table and said that it was for him, and then it happened.
I looked up and saw his face and it was my brother’s face. I’m not talking sentimentally. I saw in his face the face of my brother Joel when he was younger. I suddenly felt deeply connected to this young man whom 15 minutes before I had considered a stranger; it was that sense of blood of my blood as my heart paced a little faster. For a moment I felt the world stand still and a calm embrace us both. He sat at the table to eat and I walked away. All the way home, I regretted that I had not sat at that table and eaten my dinner with him. I thought about turning around but I didn’t. Regret upon regret.
“Connee, you are right.” Our brothers and sisters are out there ready to bless our lives by making room in their lives for us, claiming us as family and helping us to see that in sharing the abundance of God’s goodness we shall find our peace.
As we celebrate Thanksgiving, let’s commit to no regrets in the year to come. Let’s share with all whom we encounter, with special care for those most in need, the bread of life, Christ Jesus himself, who calls us to live in love, and who gives us sufficient bread for the soul and bread for the body if we will but share.
Bishop Minerva G. Carcaño