All Is Not As It Seems…

All is not as it seems..

A few months ago, I noticed a change in the neighborhood.  There was a house, that at one time was being used for one man, who lived there, but also ran a plumbing business out of it.  THe house was sparsely furnished, and the plumber who lived there seemed to be quiet, and only on an odd occasion would have friends over and have a get together with his friends or possibly they were employees.. but they did not seem like employees.

Anyway, one day while I was on my walk to work, I noticed a “For Sale” sign in the front yard.  I never saw anyone going there to tour the house, and not much later the sign came down.   Approximately a month later, all of a sudden the house we filled with about 4 or 5 older gentlemen, and the only vehicle that was there was a white unmarked van.    Walking past the house a couple of times a day, The people who lived there would say hello as I passed.

During those moments where I passed, I began to wonder who they were and why they were there all the time.

One Friday afternoon, while I was on my way home they invited me over to share a beer with them.  I explained that I did not want a beer, however, I would come over and sit down and visit with them for a while.  They instead offered some water, which I greatfully accepted.

Some of them, because of the Tau Cross I wear, asked me if I was “one of those church people who wanted to convert them,,,,”.  We have a number of different religious groups who frequent the neighborhood knocking on doors and asking to share their faith with us.
We also have them not only in English, but also in Spanish by well meaning folks who only speak a single language.

I proceeded to explain to them that I am still working on fixing the things that need fixing within myself, rather than trying to fix others, but if I could help someone else on their journey, then I would happy to share.

Once we got past that hurdle, they were all very warm and inviting, and would greet me as I passed on my way to or from work.  If I was not in a hurry, I would stop and talk for a bit and see what was going on.

Soon I finally learned what was going on with the people who lived there and how it came to be their home.  It seems that these men, were all homeless veterans, and one city employee, who owned the house, had provided the house to these men, so they could transition back into what ever their normal life was, prior to their homelessness.

In talking with these men, I learned a little about their journeys.  One of them, used to get up early in the morning, and would greet me every morning, and in his way attempt to give me encouragement for the days journey.  On the way home he was always there waiting to welcome me back home.  A few times, he waited for me to pass the house, and joined me in my walk to the bus stop.  In those walks, I learned that he was going to visit his family from whom he was estranged.  He was taking food, and going to do work at the house and help out the family.  He said it was not much, but it was everything he could do in showing his love for them.

One day the man was not there any more. He was gone for a couple of days and there was no one outside to greet me on my walk.  A few days ago one of them was sitting outside as I passed on my journey home, and I asked him what happened to the other gentleman, as I had not seen him for a while.  He explained that the man had returned home to his family and they had moved north together to begin rebuilding their lives again.
The point is that in the beginning of this journey, the very human view, might have been to be afraid of these people because they could have been any type of criminal, or addict.   It would be easy to judge from outward appearances that these would be people who were not desirable to have living in your neighborhood.

Investing ones time and effort in reaching out by inviting conversation, by hospitality,
by being open to anothers story, we can break down the walls of assumption, or appearances, and learn the true heart of the other.

Love, is the lesson.  Love of neighbor. Love of “the other” in our lives. These are the things that bring about the opportunities to share Christ with others.  Not by force, not by abuse, and not by the use of methods that are more akin to winning a battle or war.  Sharing Christ is done first, through acts of love that we share.
May God give you the gift of His peace !

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