Sunday, December 24, 2006

A Christmas Visitor

(Written two years ago.)

4:00 am 12/24/04

There was a knock on my front door which startled me awake. My dogs were barking which required dire threats to quieten as I answered the door.

Maybe you have heard of our weather and the unusually cold temperatures (16 F) and large amount of snow that has fallen, (18"), in the last 24 hours. I live just south of Interstate 64 in Southern Indiana and you may have seen the news about the closed Interstate and stranded motorists on the national news.

A man, about my own age, (early 50s), stood at the door. He was wearing tennis shoes, jeans, a field jacket and sock hat. His glasses were frosted and he wore no gloves.

He told me he was lost and asked where St.James Blvd was. I told him it was about a mile and a half to the West and asked him where his car was. He said he was walking.

I asked him in and sat a chair for him by the furnace vent. He was shivering uncontrollably, a faint whiff of alcohol was on his breath. I asked if I could fix him something to eat and he refused but he accepted a cup of coffee.

My wife talked to him as he warmed himself and I made some coffee, I could hear him speak as I made his coffee ready.

My son heard him and came into the living room to sit and listen, to keep an eye out just in case.

He was homeless, he had been sleeping under a bridge on the Ohio River about seven miles away to the West. He decided that it was too cold and he might freeze to death if he didn't find a safe place to stay. About midnight, he left his meager possessions, just a few clothes, and headed for his sisters house on St James but he had walked past the street in the dark. He was lost and confused, probably somewhat drunk, and hypothermia can add confusion to even the sober mind.

As he talked, I realized that he had mental problems, as do many of the homeless. There are places that take in the indignant, I'm sure he knew it too. But they won't accept anyone who is intoxicated, which I'm also sure he was aware of.

He drank his coffee then asked me if I would drive him to his sisters house and he offered me two dollars. Of course I refused the money but offered to take him where he wanted to go.

I intended to take measures to see after him anyway. He seemed anxious to leave.

As I drove, he told me that his sister was out of town but he had permission to use her house in an emergency. I was worried that he was just lying to me for reasons of his own but I was determined to see the thing through, even if I had to call the police to ensure his wellbeing through this cold weather.

We drove up to the house and there was a porch light on and smoke coming from the chimney vent, even though it was apparent that there was no one home as the snow was undisturbed. I asked him if he was sure he could get in, he said, "Yes, she told me where the key is." He reached out his hand, as if for a hand shake, and when I offered mine, pulled it to his lips and kissed it saying, "God bless you".

I was profoundly embarrassed but stayed long enough to see him dig around in the snow and find a key, unlock the door and wave goodbye.

I drove home, my thoughts disturbed, by the events that had taken place.

My wife was relieved as I came in and I started preparing food (very early) for this Christmas Eve. As I cut up fruit for salad and prepared the turkey for baking, my son came up behind me and hugged me, kissing my head, and said, "Dad, you did a good thing."

Again, I was embarrassed, not by my son's hug and kiss but by his praise.

I did it because it was the right thing to do.

Then he told me that he tries to help the homeless ones that hang around his place of employment. We spoke of how little we can actually do for them and I was proud of my son for doing the right thing He is a good man.

As I continued to prepare, my thoughts drifted to a couple seeking shelter in Bethlehem and the birth of the Lamb of the New Covenant, and I felt God's Peace.

May God's Peace be with you all!
Merry Christmas.



Kathy said...

YOU too are a good man Warren!
God bless you.

The Merry Widow said...

You did do the good and godly thing, we entertain angels unaware, and G*D notes the reaction!
You're a good man, Warren! May your tribe increase!
Good Morning, G*D bless and Maranatha!


Always On Watch Two said...

I read this last year, when you reposted it. I was hoping that you'd post this again this year.

Your story is a Christmas tradition for me. Okay, it's a short tradition. But still a tradition!

God bless YOU Warren--one who understands the meaning of walking with the Lord.

Merry Christmas!

nanc said...

this story NEVER grows old - may we all take a slice of it and perpetuate some goodness in our own lives.

thank you, warren - and you have a beauty day.

Brooke said...

Beautiful! What a blessing for us all; it reminds me to treat others by the "golden rule."

Merry Christmas, Warren and family!

And Nanc, too!

Elmer's Brother said...

That you are a good man Sir Warren is a gross understatement. This is a great story. Like TMW I know that we'll find that those we have touched will be angels unaware as it says in Hebrews.

beakerkin said...

a Holiday Favorite

Eyes said...

What a great story:>) I have a friend who did a similar thing. He picked up a homeless guy, who turned out to have been hit in the head with a pipe at some point, resulting in brain damage... At any rate, they became room mates. Our friend helped him navigate the paperwork to get his disability stuff, and the homeless (now not homeless) man helped around the house. Actually it was a warehouse that our friend bought and lived in with his 3 dogs.

Eyes said...

Awwwwww, that is a cute little Panda Bear:>) Merry Christmas tmw and God bless you and yours!

\"Greetings, my son!\" said...

God Bless you Warren, and please never stop telling this story, over, and over, and over again.

Christmas needs stories like this in the world to remind us of the need to be like Christ.

Christmas is Jesus\' birthday that should remind us that God became a human being just like us, and it should also remind us of his message and his works.

That is what you did here; you did what Christ would have done.

Merry Christmas Long-Range-ians!

The Merry Widow said...

Eyes-Feel free to give her bamboo and tickle her, she seems to enjoy it!
And GOOD ON your friend! He did exactlly what Christ would have done!
G.M.S.-So true, it does remind us of our obligations toward our fellow humans!
Merry Christmas one and all!


VerityINK said...

Hi hon! And Merry Christmas/Happy Hanukkah to you and yours! The dressing is made, the cranberry-orange jello is done, the mince pie is in the oven! I hope you have a TERRIFIC Christmas--it's been wonderful knowing you, and I hope to get to know you better in 2007!


Rosemary said...

Merry Christmas!

Anonymous said...

Good for you for showing compassion to the homeless. There's a homeless vet in Charlottesville. Every time I see him I pass him a $5.

FLORIAN said...

Merry Christmas and Happy New Year Nanc! And Happy Kwanz....nevermind. LOL

nanc said...

please don't get me started on kwanzaa...