Monday, August 04, 2014


I met Howard downtown at Catholic Charities two weeks ago. Howard was a black man, 68 years old, wearing a full suit. He looked like a million bucks. He had come in for food. In our conversation, I learned that Howard was from rural Virginia. He was a pistol, as my wife would say. Both fans of Southern and Soul food, we got along famously.

At 68 years old, Howard was born in 1946. In 1960, he was 14 years old, living south of the Mason Dixon line. Howard can remember when people used the n-word for real, not as a political weapon like the Democrats do or in songs and conversation to make themselves look tough like thugs do. I don't know for sure, but I'm guessing the Howard came in to see us wearing his best suit to let us know he wasn't one of those ne'er-do-well blacks that his daddy told him to avoid. No, he wanted us to know he was a real gentleman. Howard was well-spoken and polite. Although he came for our free food, he was a man working with another man.

Howard may forget our brief encounter, but I won't. It was lovely. Christ gave me the opportunity to meet Howard. Howard, like all of my other friends at Catholic Charities, was a gift to me. God so loved me that he gave me rules to live - care for the poor - that led me to Howard.

I don't recall his name, but a chap who came before Howard was a Chinese man who was in his late 70s or early 80s. He didn't speak much English at all. He knew he wanted fish and because he didn't know the words for anything else we offered, he was happy to just get some fish. I played show and tell with him with all of the other items on our menu and made sure that he got not only his fish, but a full order of everything else.

Christ died on the cross for my sins and then gave me the Gospels which led me to that Chinese fellow. He was so happy to get more than fish. He hugged me because he was delighted that I took the time to work him through the menu in a language we could share. He had no idea how his memory will warm my heart months and months after our very brief encounter.

I gave him food. The Chinese fellow gave me His love. I hope you can find the same in your life.

No comments: