Today is the writer Walker Percy’s birthday. He would have been 101. He’d be my favorite writer of recent times. I was thinking about a couple of quotes from his book “Love in the Ruins”.
“Why did God make women so beautiful and man with such a loving heart?” And
“I believe in God and the whole business but I love women best, music and science next, whiskey next, God fourth, and my fellowman hardly at all. A man, wrote John, who says he believes in God and does not keep his commandments is a liar. If John is right, then I am a liar. Nevertheless, I still believe.”
This morning I sat at a McDonalds getting a quick breakfast. I watched as across the street in front of a gas station a man was sitting on a box with a sign for the passing cars. Nobody seemed to be stopping. What thoughts occur to you right now?
I decided that after I filled up Big Red I’d give him a few bucks. No big deal. Maybe you have some opinions about this action?
As I was filling up I could hear the man talking and I listened closely. No, he wasn’t talking like a schizophrenic, though that wouldn’t have mattered, instead it sounded like he was muttering prayers and blessing on each car passing by. I went over and talked with him. His sign announced that he was veteran and that he was looking for work. He told me how he had been in the army down in Columbus, Georgia in the 70’s and told me a few stories. He had grown up in Illinois but preferred living here. The Mormons, he said, really help the people here; not so much the Catholics and the Protestants. They do good work other places, just not so much here. We talked about the VA medical care he has received and his dislike of Obamacare. He said he had too many physical problems to work regularly but that he could do odd jobs. He smiled. He was overweight, his face was tanned and he was missing a few teeth.
I told him that I thought I had heard him praying aloud. He said he liked praying and blessing folks that passed by. He had a lot of time on his hands and he enjoyed it.
Had many people been stopping and giving him some money or talking with him?
“Naw”, he looked down and shook his head. We talked a bit more , then shook hands and I wished him well.
No bible I’ve ever read says anything about judging people before you help them. Mother Teresa used to say that if you’re judging people you can’t be busy loving them.
And isn’t this what the whole religious business is about? Finding ways to translate the words we profess, like loving others, our enemies, the poor, not judging, into a reality? That’s what I struggle with because I’m sure as hell not doing it right.
His name was Brian. Bless you Brian.