I walked into the kitchen this morning to find each of my children eating a chocolate chip cookie.
No sooner had I walked in than Vibiana dropped hers and the dog quickly snatched it up. Of course, there was immediate outcry. Vibiana crying, "Mine cookie!" and Darian and Sophia looking to me to fix the problem. Sebastian, however, broke his cookie in half and, without a word, handed it to Vibiana. The crying immediately ceased and peace reigned. I was a little surprised by this automatic kindness that is too often lacking, not only in our family but in our surrounding community.
On Thursday afternoon I was standing outside Sophia's kindergarten class waiting for the bell to ring. I am not one who normally eavesdrops or pushes myself into other conversations, but in this instance I couldn't resist. These two moms were talking about having seen a homeless person walking down the sidewalk in front of the church. One of the moms said, "I wish Fr. Tom would just tell all those people to stay away. We don't want them here." She then went on to describe this "disgusting" man who actually went to mass on Sunday. As she was describing him, I realized who she was talking about.
I broke into the conversation -"Oh, you mean my friend Michael!"
The moms both looked confused and one said, "No, this isn't a friend of yours. I'm talking about this dirty man who hangs out here at the church."
"Yes," I said,"that is Michael. He is one of the most devout, holy people I know. You should try talking to him instead of judging him next time."
With that, I walked away, furious. Yes, Michael can be dirty and he carries most of his belongings in his backpack. He is mentally disabled and suffers from severe epilepsy. He is also one of the most wonderful people I know. He is sweet, innocent, caring, loving, prayerful, and truly devout. When I see Michael, and especially when I see/hear others being unkind to him, I am reminded of the song "My Jesus" by Todd Agnew.
"Cause my Jesus would never be accepted in my church
The blood and dirt on His feet might stain the carpet
But He reaches for the hurting and despised the proud
I think He'd prefer Beale St. to the stained glass crowd"
A great song , one that serves as a reminder to me. A reminder of not only what my Lord endured for me, but what he called me to do. I am bound by my commitment to the Gospel to treat others with love and kindness. This is almost never easy for me, which is evident in my handling of the situation with the two kindergarten moms. I know that I could have handled it better, spoken more kindly. But, I am not perfect and all I can do is continue to strive do my best and remember to break my cookie in half for those who need it.