Not Him. Not Now.
May 3, 2016
Bargaining with God
"You are valuable because you exist. Not because of what you do or what you have done, but simply because you are."
It was after normal office hours but the doctor had met us anyway.
After only a couple of minutes examining him, he told us to head straight to Children's Hospital, that he would meet us there
I still remember it, the fear. I can feel it even now.
Fear so huge it made conversation impossible, and so we sat silent, Shannon and I, holding hands, as we drove to the hospital.
Each of us quietly praying, bargaining with God.
Take me, not him.
He's not even two. He's done nothing wrong. He's got an entire life ahead of him.
Please, please, God, not him. Not now.
And then we were there, at the ER. And I was helping her take him out of his car seat to walk inside, not wanting the certainty of the diagnosis, the pokes, the pain, the reality of this life.
I stepped back. I had to park the car. And that's when he approached.
I hadn't seen him before. I'm not certain he was there, honestly, but our eyes met.
I saw his pain, and he saw mine.
I muttered, "I don't have anything to share right now. My little boy is really sick. I'm sorry." I wanted to brush him off, move him back. I didn't want to think about him.
And he said, "God bless you." I think. I think that's what he said. It was hard to hear him.
He offered his hand, which I didn't take. He was close enough to smell. He was dirty, unwashed.
I was frantic, anxious, impatient, unwilling to look, to understand what was happening.
And he said, again, "God bless you. He'll be okay. Your little boy. You'll all be okay."
And he walked off into the darkness away from me.
I've searched the face of every homeless man I've seen every day since, in every city I visit, hoping to see his, trying to understand what he was, who he was.
And Hebrews 13:2 seeps often into my thoughts, something about entertaining angels unawares.
30 years later, I'm still so ashamed of myself.
He is the reason I always have a dollar or two for anyone who asks, those nameless guys at stop lights.
There's an image in a Bonnie Raitt song that I love: "If you listen you can hear the angel's wings, up above our heads so near they are hovering..."
I think compassion and kindness surround us, dressed in unexpected ways, offered from what we consider an unlikely source.
And so we miss it. We let it fly by while we gaze at our iPhones.
Yet the need surrounds us too. We avoid it. We don't want to see it, as if by denial it will cease.
It's not just a need for money. It's a need for humanity, for one simple act of caring, even if only briefly, for another.
The simplest acknowledgment that reveals our connection to the divine.
As the headline screams, U.S. Suicide Rate Surges to a 30-Year High, we focus our attention on our Facebook page, turn off our big-screen HD plasma TV, close and lock our doors, worry about our investments, and pop an Ambien to help us sleep.
I believe the life you live outside your studio, outside your station, fuels the life you live inside it.
What I've shared today is meant to remind you whence you come.
It's meant to confront a truth: that if you need an angel today, they are closer than you may think.
And another: that you may be the angel someone needs today
Much is not within your power, but this is.
And that's a miracle.