Wednesday, April 1, 2009

April Fools

I felt kind of silly standing there. I had just parked my car illegally in the street, turned on my hazard lights, and stepped out on the sidewalk. I walked over to the doorway of the abandoned building and looked down at the pile of blankets. Wrapped in those tattered quilts was a human figure, barely discernable to the disinterested observer.

It was very cold out that night and I had stepped out to run an errand. As I passed the corner of Wittenberg and Main, I remembered the homeless men who frequently sleep in the doorway. I decided to stop at the corner on my return journey.

“Hey, how you doing?” I said to the pile of blankets.

It was quiet for a moment. I stood there shivering.

“Hello?” I asked again. Soon, the familiar face peered out from under the blankets and I heard a grunt.

“Listen, it’s real cold out here. I live on the next block and we have plenty of room. It is warm and we have a spare bed. If you want a place to sleep, or just to come in and warm up, you’re more than welcome to stop in. We won’t bother you or anything…”

He said no and pulled the blankets over his face again.

“Okay,” I said, “but this card has our address on it. If you ever want to stop in for some coffee or something, we’re home most of the time.”

I dropped the card on the sidewalk near him and said goodnight.

The act itself was almost foolish. It was simplistic, naïve, and somewhat reckless. Homelessness is a complex problem, and if one wishes to address it with any amount of effectiveness, he must take into account various intricacies and conditions of fallen man and society. The answer is never as simple as inviting someone into your home.

Or is it?

There is something there, I’ve found. There is something in the foolishness.

In the face of towering adversity, there is something to be said for simple acts of faithfulness. When swept away by trials, there is something to be said for quiet determination. When we encounter the scars of cosmic brokenness, mundane acts of love remind us who we are supposed to be.

So much of what we are supposed to be as God’s people depends on our willingness to cast off the “normal” patterns of the world and embrace peculiarity. Downward mobility over the ladder to success. Peace over aggressive expansion. Meekness over efficiency.

The way we live up to our potential is to live as fools. And when we are at our silliest, our purpose may be clearly focused.

April fools? I hope so.

1 comment:

Angela Harms said...

Oh, yes, yes, yes, yes. Thank you. Thank you for being foolish, and for writing about it. :)