On February 2nd, David shared this reflection during worship as part of a series in which members and friends were asked, “How does your faith impact your daily life?”
Many years ago (over 30 actually) there was a very interesting television show on called “Connections” hosted by James Burke, a British historian. Don’t know if any of you saw any of the episodes but the premise of the show was that unconnected seemingly random events would occasionally collide to produce very unexpected outcomes. My little testimony this morning is an example of this phenomenon and hopefully you will find it a bit inspiring, or at least somewhat interesting as I share a piece of me that, heretofore has been only known by a couple of people in my life, namely Ruth and Keith and even they have never heard the whole story.
To begin this little saga I need to gather all of you as we step into Mr. Peabody’s WABAC machine and travel back in time to October, 2003. We had just moved to the area, I had a new job in Cambridge and was undergoing daily cancer treatments at MGH. That in itself is a bizarre story but that’s not what I’m going to talk about this morning, but it’s an important part of the story. So, every day I would hop on the T and make the joyous commute on the Red Line from Central Square to the Charles/MGH T Stop and head over to MGH. This went on for about 8 weeks. Well, for those of you who remember that beautiful edifice known as the Charles/MGH station back then, it was slated for demolition back in 2003 and for good reason but while it was a dilapidated piece of steel and concrete, it had one feature that the current station does not – a viaduct that connected the station to the north side of Charles Street allowing passengers to avoid crossing the street to get to the hospital.
Now those of you who regularly ride the T know that there is a certain culture that exists among the passenger community – a type of anonymity that allows you to ride almost cheek to cheek without ever actually acknowledging that you are surrounded by a sea of people. So, it’s with that mindset that I’m trudging off for daily treatments and you couple that with the brain fog that kind of develops when you’re getting daily radiation treatments to your head and neck, well lets just say I was in my own world most of the time. I just wanted to get in get treated and get back to work. So, during these daily jaunts back and forth on this walkway I would notice but not really pay attention to the fact that there would be a pile of clothes in the corner at the top of the stairs on the hospital side of Charles Street. Then one day for no apparent reason than I saw the clothes move I realized that there was a person inside the pile and realized that one of Boston’s many homeless had camped out there to get out of the cold and accept whatever meager offerings the passersby would donate. One day I decided to contribute to her needs and, as I gave the person some money, she looked up and said God Bless You. Well, something clicked inside – actually it was more like a snap. It’s one of those rare ‘moments of clarity’ that you get a few times in your life, when you see a path and just know that it’s the one that you need to take. You can call it an ‘Aha Moment’, a ‘Jesus Story’, a ‘Vision from God’, whatever, but what I said back basically was going to change our two lives forever. So I said, ‘God has already blessed me, dear; it’s about time he started to bless you.’ That began a love affair that my wife knows about and fully supports, BTW, that continues to this day. So the story has many turns and twists and like any relationship has had its rocky moments and its happy ones. A recent one was just last month Debra (that’s her name) called me up and said, “Dave, I’m turning 60 on Saturday and I’d like to have a party with my grandson. Can you help?” Well, how can you say no to a request like that?
I’ll not take you any further down this path. I was hesitant to even share this because this has been part of my life path and, you know, some things you just like to keep private. I decided to talk about this, though, because I wanted you to think about this little vignette the next time you see a homeless person asking for help. Buried inside the tattered clothes is a person who needs help and, when you do, God truly does bless you. Amen.