A couple of days ago, I woke up without the alarm and decided to go for a bike ride. While leaving through my backyard, there was a homeless man standing outside the gate. We exchanged smiles and a quick hello. And then I strode off into the world through the crisp morning air. However, lingering in my mind was both doubt and shame. I wasn't sure what was going on other than an uneasy feeling of leaving my family behind while a homeless man is hanging out in the alley next to our house. But I had to trust everything was going to work out, otherwise the shame would have ruined my ride.
I was home about 40 minutes later, and the guy was still there. Again, I began to feel uneasy. This time, it was because I didn't want him to discover my secret way of unlocking the gate (in spite of the fact that it wouldn't take anyone long to figure it out). Instead I engaged him in some conversation, and learned his name was Andre. I learned he was a retired auto mechanic with a drinking and drug problem. He had a wife and some kids in Las Vegas and a daughter who was trying to get him to move in with her in Houston. He couldn't do anything just yet until he finished his AA meetings (he had 23 more to go) for getting busted with a beer in public. He was drinking a beer in public as we spoke. But what I learned about him was what I learned from him. He already knew me because I had given him some bottles in the past. That was last summer! Again, more guilt for not remembering him until he pointed out to me. We;;, we talked and laughed a bit longer, discovering we knew a few common people at the local shelters that I drop food off to. Then out of the blue a l oud crashing sound happens around the corner. A car horn stuck on loud, blasted down the alley way. I rode off to see what happened with Andre, pushing his grocery cart, bringing up the rear.
A car had swerved off the road and hit a parked car and a truck, which had someone inside. The front wheel of the truck had been sheared off the axil and the side door of the car that hit him was nothing more than a metal skeleton. Both men were shaken up, disoriented and bewildered. But while I tended to the men, Andre pulled out some pliers and took care of the car horn. In an effort to show how kindness can play a big part in helping these two strangers resolve their problem, I asked them to introduce themselves to one another. As they did, their anger and fear began to wash away. As they kind of laughed at the weirdness of the situation, I told them "Accidents happen every day, you never know what this one will bring." Perhaps they learned a lesson on human kindness and gentleness in the face of hostility. If anything, I hope it brought them peace in a time when all they could feel was anger and fear. I wonder what could have happened had I not stopped to talk with Andre. Are accidents
An ex-copywriter turned punk rock pastor and peacemaker who dedicates his life to making the world a better place for all humanity.
"...how he went about doing good..."