Wednesday, February 08, 2012

entertaining an angel unaware

we all love a good story.
especially when the under dog ends up the hero.
we love it when the unexpected character rises up above the obvious
good character & leaves us inspired and our thinking is challenged.
i think we would all love to be Leigh Ann Tuohy in The Blind Side
& have a Michael Oher in our life....
or would we?

i fully believe we will all have encounters
some only brief
& some last a lifetime
where we can make a decision to do something.
it may require very little from us
or it may truly require a sacrifice.
some may choose to view these as karma, or coincidence
inconvenient or maybe not even see the encounter at all.

while we may never have Michael Oher opportunity
we might have a Clarence.
i'm certain i've walked right on by, or not seen
or thought "i'll help another time"
with my own Clarence or maybe even perhaps a Michael...
an opportunity where the "giver" in the story actually becomes the "receiver"
the underdog is actually the hero.
the encounter, if you will, is maybe even an opportunity to 
entertain an angel unaware....


allow me to introduce you to my friend Callie & her Clarence.

callie is an amazing photographer, a brilliant entreprenuer
& apparantly a fantastic writer too...


We met you the first day we moved to Augusta. You introduced yourself as Clarence Davis, and you weren't homeless but just "down on your luck". You explained that you knew the previous owners and that you used to rake their leaves and that you were HIV positive and could we please give you a little work ? You raked our yard that day and didn't complain once about the heat, although you were sweating so much I'm not sure how you could see to finish the job.

You started coming by every few days, and after the first few times we had to tell you that we didn't have enough leaves to rake or enough money to pay you for you to come so often. Finally one day, you shook your head and chuckled a little and you said, "Miss Callie, I done begged myself out now didn't I?"

You always found a way to make me laugh, and you told me once that the Bible said that if you don't make people laugh, then you're not doing your job. It may not have been sound theology, but it was a good practice nonetheless, and I appreciated the stories you would tell me and the wisdom you would share.

We came to an agreement and officially hired you as our yard man. You came twice a month, once on the first and once on the fifteenth, and we paid you $20 each time to take care of our yard. We were able to budget for you this way, always having $20 in cash on hand, and you were able to count on this income, but it still didn't change the frequency in which you stopped by to visit.

You came to talk or to ask for apple juice or to see my baby, who you loved watching grow up. You would take her hands in yours and every motherly instinct in me wanted to pull her away from yours, which were so full of mud and sweat and HIV, but there was something about your soul that I knew was clean enough to make up for the outside. We would sit on my front porch and rock in the rocking chairs and you would talk and I would smile.

You always seemed to come by at the most inconvenient times, usually when I had just put the baby down for a nap. I would be sitting down to my laptop to finally get some work done and you would knock on the front door and peek in through the top window, sending my dog into a barking fit, making the baby cry. Most days I would feel this wave of frustration at the interruption, and then I'd open the door and you would smile and tell me that look! the Lord had given you another day.

On one day in particular, I was alone in this house, overwhelmed with the pressure of gaining more website hits and expanding my business to new markets and growing bigger and wider and faster. It felt so important and so necessary, like my worth and my success and my impact would be defined by how many Facebook fans we had. I wanted to tell you to leave when you knocked that day, that I had too much important work to do, but instead we sat in our rocking chairs and you told me about your big fight.

A man accused you of stealing a lawnmower. I myself knew immediately that the man was wrong in his accusation, first because you were honest to a fault (you once admitted to sleeping in our shed on a rainy night, and you told us just because you said it felt wrong to keep anything from us) and second because that lawnmower was ours. We had put a lock on our shed that only you and my husband knew the combination to, and we had given you permission to use the lawnmower whenever you needed it for work. The man had no reason for the accusation other than the color of your skin and the condition of your clothing.

You said that you told that man that you were no thief, and then you told me something that changed the trajectory of my business. And my life.

"Miss Callie," you admitted, "that man made me angry, but do you know what I did? I told him about Jesus, because even my enemies need to know about Jesus. In fact, they're the ones that need to know about him the most."

In my world of aiming to reach wide, I had overlooked reaching deep. If my website had a million hits each month but I failed to build a relationship or make a personal impact, what had I accomplished? If everyone in this world knew the name of my business but not the name of Christ, what impact had I made? You have very little in the eyes of this world Clarence, but you have it all in the eyes of the One who made you.

You didn't come by on the 15th of November to do your yard work, and we wondered if you had found a place in the shelter on the other side of town. You used to tell us that you were "schizophrenic" because you forgot things sometimes, but we knew you wouldn't forget us, not on the first or the fifteenth. When Christmas rolled around and we didn't see you, we started to worry. I googled your name to see if you had been picked up by the police but found nothing. Another man came by asking to rake the ever-growing pile of leaves in our yard and we told him no thanks, that the job was already taken.

It's the middle of January now, and my friend called today and told me that she had some bad news. She found out that you were killed two months ago, struck by a car while you were crossing an intersection on your bicycle, about a half a mile from our house. You died that night at the Medical College Hospital, and a mutual friend who is a student there found the record of your death, listed under your birth name Parnell. I found one news article about you, saying only that a homeless man was struck and killed and that you were at fault for the incident. Your obituary simply provided the date of your death.

Your death didn't make the cover of Time magazine, there was no biography published after your passing, mourners didn't lay flowers at your graveside, you didn't even have a memorial service. But as I told my husband the news of your passing today and we hugged and cried together in the kitchen, I can tell you that your impact may not have been wide, but it was deep.

I often wondered if God sent you to me on those afternoons, and sometimes I wondered if it was Jesus himself asking me for something cold to drink or telling me that he loved the way I smiled. You said once, "You know that I love you and Mr. David and that baby of yours, right?", but we never needed to hear you say those words. You lived them, and yes, we knew.

Do not forget to entertain strangers, for by so doing some people have entertained angels without knowing it. - Hebrews 13:2
{featured here}

matthew 25. 44&45

"They also will answer, ‘Lord, when did we see you hungry or thirsty or a stranger or needing clothes or sick or in prison, and did not help you?’
“He will reply, ‘I tell you the truth, whatever you did not do for one of the least of these, you did not do for me.’


slip4 said...

Wow. This story is going to stay with me for a while. Lots to think about. Thanks for sharing!

Kimberly said...

Such a beautiful story ... thank you :)

Simone said...

What an incredibly moving story Paige, thank you for sharing it XX

Tracey said...

Oh my goodness Paige. Thank you for sharing that beautiful story!

Daphne Williamson said...

WOW! Awesome story. I sit here in my classroom in awe of how many missed opportunties I have had to spread the Good News of Jesus! If we would only take the time to entertain those who aggrevate us the most! Thanks so much for sharing, I needed that so much today!

Kelli said...

Amen! This is a wonderful story...something we all need to read and put into practice. God gives us many opportunities. Thanks for sharing.

traci said...

wow. very powerful. thanks for sharing that amazing story.

Jill said...

Thank you for sharing (and Blessing!)

Bethanie said...

This is so beautiful. I have always kept that verse in my mind. I know that there have been angels in my own life and reading this story just made me cry. Once, while living in Florida, my husband had a homeless man come and try to sell some tools to make some money. My husband told him he didnt really need his tools, but he would give him some money for food. The man said he would repay my husband, he even went to the extent to ask for his address...Todd didnt think another thing of it, he was sure he had probably just contributed to a bad habit this man had, but he knew he was doing what the Lord would do...he knew he would never see the money again, but that did not matter. Fast forward a few months, a dirty envelope came in the mail, in it was the exact amount of money he had given the man. There are Clarence's all over, sometimes we just have to come out of our comfort zone and respond.
Have a blessed day Paige. xoxo

Terri said...

Wow! Thank you for sharing that powerful story. It certainly gives me a lot to think about.

Jeannine said...

I have chills. My yard is my mission field, if I will accept the missions the Lord places in my path, as Callie has done.

Jillian Nicole said...

Such a beautiful story and so inspiring! Thanks so much for sharing, Callie!

3 Peanuts said...

I am bawling my eyes out right now. I love hearing of people walking the walk every single day of their lives.....stepping out of their comfort to love those God wants us to love. Beautiful story of love. And beautifully written.

Kacee said...

I'm full of emotion. Thank you for sharing. There are no words to follow that...just beautiful!

The Avery House said...

I am sorry to admit that I almost didn't read this post today Paige. I have been so wrapped up and busy that I scrolled down and thought, "I'll save this one for later." But something compelled me to read on. I am amazed and awed by what I found in the story you shared with us today. It's too long for me to explin why, but this post of yours today was an answer to prayer! Thank you! Forgive my busyness and know you are always in my thoughts.

Rebecca said...

Well, that just rocked my world. But thats ok, I think I needed a little shaking up. Thanks for sharing such a beautiful story.

Shannon said...

Love, Love, Love this! As I sit here with tears in my eyes I feel so full of Joy having a chance to read such a beautiful story :) Thank you once again Paige!

Gallegly said...

First, I'd like to say that I'm a daily reader of your blog and I appreciate your words so, so much. Especially today.
Not ten minutes ago as I was pouring my who-knows-what-number cup of coffee, I started stressing about what I'd be teaching tonight. I run the youth ministry at our church and on Wed nights I lead a program that focuses on social justice. This year we are concentrating on homelessness and working with the shelter that rotates between 11 different churches in our town. Our Wed night meeting is a 'reflection group' and (in my opinion) one of the most meaningful and deep conversations we've had arose around the topic of memorial services for members of the homeless community. That Clarence was even mentioned in a paper is unique- so often the death of a member of the homeless community is simply listed in a police report or in the coroners records. It is heartening to see such a beautifully written tribute that reflects the true humanity of a person- homeless or not. Ms. Callie and her husband reflect a Godly beauty that is an inspiration to hear about.
Anyway, it's only 9am here in Ca and already God is working in her funny ways- I can be your token 'hippie' reader from CA that refers to God as a she :) As the stress started to rise I thought, 'hold on. just take some time, read your blogs and then go to work and worry there.' BOOM- I come to your blog, read this and there God is, offering a chance for me to see a solution to my worries. Thanks Paige, and Ms. Callie, for being beautiful players in God's plan.
Now I'm late for work because I've spent so much time reading this piece and rambling here in my comment...

Kitty said...

Wow! Tears.... So beautiful. Thank you for this.

Tiffany said...

um wow - tears at work no less.

wonderful thank you so much for sharing that!


Cathi said...

That is a beautiful story! I always smile and say hello to everyone that I cross paths with not matter what, you just never know that could change the course of someones life. When helping others it is often us that are changed and enriched by the experience. It's a beautiful thing! xxoo

kt said...

thank you for sharing, what a fabulous story, and a great reminder of what a tiny amount of kindness can do for a person :) God bless!

Susan W said...

Thank you so much for sharing, as tears get wiped from my eyes for Callies loss, a smile also is on my heart for the gift of a friendship not expected that was gained.
Again, thank you.

Privet and Holly said...

Tears are flowing
freely as I type.

I think God led
me to your page,
today, and this
very story.

Thanks for this,

xx Suzanne

Alecia said...

What a sweet story...great perspective she gave. Sounds like Mr. Clarence was a wise man full of God's love, truth & wisdom. Thanks for sharing!

The 5 Bickies said...

such a beautiful story.

Anonymous said...

What a powerful story..
Sitting here thinking about what I just read..

shannon p said...

Powerful...A reminder to us all: "GOD" is everywhere...Jesus wept and blessed and hurt for the homeless, the hurting, the "poor", lonely and the sick. Let us never forget it. We have all been entertained by Angels. I know I have many times....and I am thankful! Crying...

Art and Sand said...

So touching - as a teacher I have many "little" incidents that add up to why God placed me at my school. For the first 6 months I cried on the way to school asking God why he had put me in the situation but, I realized he put me there to build relationships and I have had many Clarence's in my years there.

Wendy @ The Shabby Nest said...

Paige, Thank you for sharing this story. It was just the perspective I needed in my life at the moment.

Home: Inside and Out said...

Wow. Afternoon reading=tears. Thanks for sharing!

LLH Designs said...

I pray that my heart will be open to recognize the Clarence and the Michael Oher in my path. Just rewatched "The Blind Side" a few days ago. Incredible story.


Jodi said...

What a great story, really makes me think!

Thanks for sharing


Jen Kershner said...

What a deeply touching story. My eyes are currently filled with tears and somehow I know this story will stay with me for a long time.

Tery H said...

What a touching wonderful story. I plan on sharing this with friends as this is a lesson in compassion that everyone needs to learn. Thank,you.

Lisa said...

a perfect reminder that every human being is worthy of our time and our love. It also shows us to not be so quick to assume that a person has nothing to give to us because in the world's view, he appears to have so little; indeed, it may be we who are truly in need. Thank you for being faithful to share with us all the gifts Clarence has given you. God bless you!