Wednesday, October 21, 2009

See The Goodness of the Lord -- Day Two

An amazing sight. That's what I experienced today. No, it was not the pink-tinged clouds of the superlative sunrise this morning -- though it was wonderful. It wasn't any of the things that normally capture my photographer's eye.

Instead it was a man with gift. For me.

I was sitting in my office this afternoon when my phone buzzed. "You have a guest," said Janice, one of the Center's administrative assistants. I walked out and there stood Roger.

Roger, for those of you who have not read this blog very long, is a bagger at the O'Malia's store next to our office. He's a very interesting fellow: one I would have ignored though, truth be told, until he opened my eyes with conversation one day. I often stop in that store to grab something for lunch and about five years ago Roger began speaking to me -- first by asking "How's my favorite living Quaker theologian?" (How'd he know I was a Quaker? was my first thought) and then by talking about Kierkegaard and other theologians.

But our conversations had always been confined to the check-out line at the grocery.

Until today. When I came out out into the lobby and there stood Roger, with his ever-present hat on, bundled up for his walk home, and holding a bag. "Hi," he smiled, shyly, and reached the bag out to me. "I was culling my bookshelves and came across some volumes I thought you might enjoy." And he held the bag out tentatively to me.

I took it and he began shuffling sideways toward the door. "I didn't mean to bother you," he said.
"You didn't bother me," I replied lamely. "This is a wonderful gift."

"Well, I hope you enjoy them. Goodbye,now." And he was gone.

I opened up the bag -- double bagged so the weight wouldn't rip through the sack, so like Roger. And there was a collection of Quaker related books -- including the classic Testament of Devotion by Thomas R. Kelly. It was all I could do not to weep. Here was this gift of books -- one of the most precious things in the world to me -- from an unlikely friend who is still teaching me to value that of God in everyone one, especially and including those who are not from my social set.

I saw love in action. I saw God in this kind, humble man -- for whom the most I have ever done is have the occasional fleeting conversation about God or politics or human rights or existentialism (about which he knows a great deal more than me) in the check-out line. I was blessed by sighting grace at work -- a humbling vision, clothed as I was in nice, new shoes, shirt and tie and coming as it was clothed in a ball hat and work clothes and a double-bagged set of books.

-- Brent

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