Header Image (book)

aowheader.3.2.gif

Friday, December 23, 2016

A Christmas Visitor



Posted by Warren

(Originally posted on "Longrange" for Christmas 2004)

4:00 am 12/24/04

There was a knock on my front door which startled me awake. My dogs were barking which required my dire threats to quieten them as I answered the door.

Maybe you have heard of our weather and the unusually cold temperatures and large amount of snow that has fallen in the last 24 hours. I live just south of Interstate 64 in Southern Indiana and you may have seen the news about the closed Interstate and stranded motorists on the national news.

A man in his early fifties, about my own age, stood at the door. He was wearing tennis shoes, jeans, a field jacket and sock hat. His glasses were frosted and his pale white hands and reddened knuckles gave witness that he wore no gloves.

He told me he was lost and asked for directions to a certain address. I told him that he missed his mark by a mile and a half and asked him where his car was. He said he was walking.

I invited him in and sat a chair for him by the warm air from the furnace vent. He was shivering uncontrollably and a faint whiff of alcohol was on his breath. I asked if I could fix him something to eat but he refused and accepted a hot cup of coffee.

My wife talked to him as he warmed himself and I could hear him speaking as I prepared his fresh coffee.

My son heard his voice and came into the living room to sit and listen, and to watch, just in case.

His story unfolded.

He was homeless, he had been sleeping in a box, under a bridge over the Ohio river, several miles to the West. He had decided that it was too cold and he might freeze to death if he didn't find safe shelter with more than a cardboard box to keep him warm. About midnight, he had left his meager possessions and headed for his sisters home, a mile or so from my own home. He had walked past in the blowing snow and the dark but continued walking. He was lost, confused and probably somewhat drunk. Hypothermia can add confusion to even the sober mind.

As he spoke, I realized that he had mental problems as do many of the homeless.

There are places that provide refuge for the indignant, I'm sure he knew, but they don't accept anyone who is intoxicated, which I'm also sure he knew.

He drank his coffee then asked me if I would drive him to his sisters home. He then offered me two dollars. Of course I refused the money but offered to take him where he wanted to go.

I intended to take measures to see after him and he seemed anxious to leave.

As I drove, he told me that his sister was out of town but he had permission to use her house in an emergency. I was worried that he was just lying for reasons of his own but I was determined to see the thing through, even if I had to call the police to ensure his well-being through this cold weather.

As we drove up to the house, there was a porch light on and smoke coming from the chimney vent. Even so, it was apparent that there was no one home, the snow around the house was undisturbed.

I asked him if he was sure he could get in, he said, "Yes, she (his sister) told me where the key is." He reached out his hand, as if for a hand shake, and when I offered mine, pulled my hand to his lips and kissed it saying, "God bless you".

I was profoundly embarrassed but stayed long enough to see him dig around in the snow and find a key, unlock the door and wave goodbye.

I drove home, my thoughts disturbed, by the events that had taken place.

My wife was relieved as I returned and I started preparing food (very early,) for Christmas Eve. As I cut up fruit for salad and prepared the turkey for baking, my son came up behind me, hugged me and kissing my head, said, "Dad, you did a good thing."

Again, I was embarrassed, not by my son's hug and kiss but by his praise.

It was the right thing to do.

My son told me that he tries to help the homeless ones that hang around his place of employment. We spoke of how little we can actually do for them and I was proud of my son for being a good man and doing the right thing.

As I continued to prepare food for Christmas Eve, my thoughts drifted to a couple seeking shelter in Bethlehem and the birth of the Lamb of the New Covenant, and I felt God's Peace.

May God's Peace and blessings be with you all!
Merry Christmas.

Warren

Post Note:

First, please watch "Mary, Did You Know?" as performed by the Pentatonix, an a capella group. I hope that you love it as much as I do:


====

Twelve years have passed since I first posted this, and I am always asked to brush the cobwebs off and re-post it for Christmas. I change the post note every year to reflect my personal feelings.

This last year has been hard for me. I lost my wife in July, and my mother passed unexpectedly a month ago. It hasn't changed my outlook on life; if anything, it has reinforced it. My motto is, live for the day but plan for the long range. (Now you know how my blog and Internet handle came about.) My son has a home of his own, and my dogs are gone into my doggie cemetery, except for "Smokie," my younger companion.

I've decided to mothball "Longrange" and join "Always On Watch" and by the grace of AOW as a partner. If you wish to contact me by Email, you may do so at longrang(at)google.com; it will be forwarded to me (I'm getting tired of daily deleting spam from a blog where I seldom, if ever, post).

40 comments:

  1. A very lovely story, Warren. I'm so sorry for all your loses this year. I will add your wife, mother, and you to my prayer list. Looking forward to more of your posts and I'm glad that AOW has a blogging pal.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Adrienne,
      Warren designed my avatar and this blog's template -- and has long been an administrator here. I'm so glad and so grateful that he has agreed to post here as a full partner.

      Delete
    2. Thank you Adrienne, everyone needs some one to pray for them. In this I am blessed.

      Delete
    3. Warren-For years, you and your wife were in my daily prayers. Now, sadly, it's just you...I know where she is, and look forward to seeing her in person. The 2 of you have been a blessing, love you and continue to pray...after all, you are my blogger big brother!

      Blessings and healing for the New Year!
      tmw

      Delete
  2. A timely story, if ever there was one. Merry Christmas, Warren! I'm glad you've decided to hang around for a bit longer. :)

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. FJ, old friend, hanging around is what I do best. :^)

      Merry Christmas!

      Delete
    2. Like an ornament from my "youth" on my Christmas tree.... ;)

      Delete
    3. Exactly.
      For several years I just pulled myself out of storage, dusted off the cobwebs and hung around.
      :^)

      Delete
  3. We often speak of keeping the spirit of Christmas. This story of Warren's is the embodiment of keeping that spirit.

    ReplyDelete
  4. Warren,

    Thanks for your continuing inspiration!

    MERRY CHRISTMAS

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. JonBerg, thank you for your kind words and Mery Christmas to you.

      Delete
  5. Warren,
    This has been a year of such sorrow for you. So much to bear!

    We must remember that Jackie is at peace now. No more pain. She suffered so much and for so long! And you were there for her every step of the way.

    ReplyDelete
  6. A lovely story. Hebrews 13.2
    Do not neglect to show hospitality to strangers, for by this some have entertained angels without knowing it.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Bunkerville,
      I believe that every one of us Believers should find a way to make a stranger's day a better one.

      I'm not much on organized charity, but I try to practice one-on-one charity (kindnesses, including financial ones).

      Have I been taken advantage of? Yes.

      Have I been blessed many more times than I've been taken advantage of? Absolutely! It really is blessed to give.

      Delete
    2. Yes... and I remember so well the acts of kindness given to me by strangers when I was in need.

      Delete
    3. Bunkerville, I was raised by my grandparents until I was 10 years old. Those "old fashioned" attitudes are who I am.

      Delete
  7. Takes chutzpah, Warren. I must say I would not have done that. But it is a beautiful story. Especially since you didn't end up in bloody headlines. Blessings to you this Christmas.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Baysider, I was in no danger, I could do no other.

      A friend of mine, a priest, told me that he believes God speaks to us through our conscience. That morning I was being screamed at.

      I believe that, that day I was in a state of Grace and I truly felt Gods Peace in my soul.

      Blessings to you my friend.

      Delete
  8. Great story, sir. Truly inspiring and a great reminder of our duty to love our brothers and sister, met and yet met. God Bless, and Merry Christmas.

    ReplyDelete
  9. To all who stop by here:

    ★ Merry ★* 。 • ˚ ˚ ˛ ˚ ˛ •
    •。★ Christmas 。* 。
    ° 。 ° ˛˚˛ * _Π_____*。*˚
    ˚ ˛ •˛•˚ */______ /~\。˚ ˚ ˛
    ˚ ˛ •˛• ˚ | 田田 |門| ˚And a Happy New Year
    * Joy to all! ♫•*¨* Peace on Earth ♪♫•*¨*

    ReplyDelete
  10. Merry Christmas AoW, Warren and fellow bloggers!

    ReplyDelete
  11. Warren, I'm so glad you shared your story with us again. I was sure once I got into it, that I'd read it before a few years ago, but I can't remember where or when –– probably right here. Anyway, it's a great story, and deserves much repetition. Here is one of my own:

    HER NAME IS VICKY

    PART ONE


    About four years ago on a searing hot July day, I stepped outside our neighborhood Chinese take-out place after eating lunch, and ran into a beautiful Boxer dog, who was lying in her side panting with exhaustion in the heat. I looked at the dog –– a beautiful thoroughbred boxer ––, and talked to her, as though we were already old and dear friends. She had a beatific look in eyes, if such a thing is possible in a dog, and I felt great empathy for her.

    Though she was on a leash, I hadn't noticed noticed her companion.

    Suddenly a deep, pleasant-sounding masculine voice said very gently, "Her name is Vicky."

    One look at the young man was deeply disturbing. He might have been good -looking, but his teeth were all black and brown, his lips terribly dry, his complexion mottled, his eyes sunken in circles of darkened flesh with a haunted look, and his blond hair filthy and stiff with grease. But Vicky obviously adored him, and his devotion to the dog was almost palpable. The bond and between them was so obvious –– and so strong –– its beauty was extraordinarily touching.

    (CONTINUED)

    ReplyDelete
  12. HER NAME IS VICKY

    PART TWO

    I talked with him about the dog Vicky, and I could tell from the way he spoke that she was the only reason he had to want to go in living. But Vicky, a retired firehouse dog who'd won several medals during her career, was already 13 years old, and showing signs of exhaustion. They'd already walked several miles across town to get to the place where i'd met them. It looked as though this story could not possibly have a happy ending.

    I felt a strong urge to take them home with me and offer them food and shelter, but realized it was impossible, and where could it possibly lead? I felt I shouldn't start something I wouldn't be able to finish.

    I offered him money, though I didn't have much on me, but he thanked me and refused very politely. He wanted to find work, he said. He had a brother who was looking door-to-door for work right then, he told me. They both had been living on the street for seven years. He told me he was twenty-four, but from the look of him he might have been fifty.

    I knew no store or restaurant would allow him to enter with Vicky, so I offered to buy some food for himself and the dog, but again he politely refused. He had a sack filled with food for Vicky. She obviously came first,

    I asked him if his parents were alive, and couldn't they help him and his brother?

    He had a mother, but never had any idea who his father might have been. I asked about the mother, who lived in a trailer. All he said was, "We couldn't Iive with her. Her place is so dirty and full of bugs and garbage the smell would make you sick". She, apparently, was an alcoholic who long ago had given up on life. He felt trying to live with her would be worse than the street, and told me that's why he and his brother got out of there in the first place.

    I was practically in tears; I have never felt more helpless –– or more useless –– in my life. There just wasn't anything I could do for them, so finally I had to leave them there, but the thought of that dear animal, who had such faith in the young man nearly broke my heart, and the thought of those two haunts me to this day.

    I never saw them again, so can only imagine what must have happened. Frankly, I shudder to think how their story must have ended. I suppose if Jesus had met them He would have been able to help them, but it was way beyond my feeble powers to do anything, but feel bad about it.

    I still do. I often think of them, and get overcome with that feeling of heartbreak and helplessness. It's not guilt so much as it is sorrow, –– and frustration at being made to feel so helpless and so useless.

    Somehow, there MUST be a way to deal humanely with situations like that, but I'm damned if I know what it could be, do you?

    It's horrifying to think their story is only one of millions just like it in this the richest and greatest country on God's green earth.

    "Are there no prisons? Are there no workhouses? ..."

    "Is there no MERCY?" is all I can ask.

    ReplyDelete
  13. IT SEEMS APPROPRIATE NOW TO EXLORE THE SOBER SIDE OF CHRISTMAS:

    __ The Holy Enfant __

    Born in a manger
    ___ a low start in life
    Given to see
    ___ that no one is alone
    Ill-fated Child
    ___ destined only for Grief
    The Star disappeared;
    ___ Herod killed not the One

    But hundreds of others
    ___ God saved Him for us.
    He was to show us
    ___ that we could be saved
    Be happy and free
    ___ from all animus.
    But we work to kill Him
    ___ we are so depraved

    God loves us. ’Tis we
    __ are the ones who destroy.
    Each trust betrayed,
    ___ each gift that is spurned
    Is a stab in the heart
    ___ of an Innocent Boy,
    But, we’ll all feel the agony
    ___ all we have learned:

    He suffered the Cross
    ___ to height to our goals
    ______ light to our minds
    _________ and flight to our souls.



    ~ FreeThinke, The Sandpiper - Winter 1996-97

    ReplyDelete
  14. "In so much as ye have done it uno the least of these, my brethren, ye have done it also unto me."

    I wonder as I wander out under the sky
    How Jesus, the Savior, did come forth to die?
    For poor ornery people like you and like I ––
    I wonder as I wander out under the sky.

    When Mary birthed Jesus, 'twas in a cow's stall
    With wise men and farmers and shepherd and all,
    But into the manger a Star's light did fall,
    And the Promise of Ages we then did recall

    If Jesus had wanted for any wee thing,
    A star in the sky or a bird on the wing,
    Or all of God's angels in Heaven for to sing,
    He surely could have had it, for he was the King.

    I wonder as I wander out under the sky
    How Jesus, the Savior, did come forth to die?
    For poor ornery people like you and like I ––
    I wonder as I wander out under the sky?

    ReplyDelete
  15. FT, Thank you for sharing your story and poetry.

    You read my Story 2 years ago on my blog "Longrange" in 2014 and left a comment. You came to it through a link on this blog. I've never published it anywhere else before now.

    More later, I'm going to Midnight Mass with my son. I have to change clothes.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I know it must be hard for you to think of having a merry Christmas this year, Warren, but I hope you will find comfort and inspiration in the meaning of this greatest of Great Events.

      As I'm sure you know, it's not all about fancy decorations and eating too much rich food. The true meaning of Our Savior's Birth really does transcend human sorrow to those who believe. I'm not especially pious, but I have always found that to be so, ever since I learned that my Sunday School teachers really did know what they were talking about when they told us, "It is more blessed to give than to receive."

      May all good things come to you in the New Year, Warren. I think after having given so much for so many years you are long overdue for a break.

      Best,

      FreeThinke

      Delete
  16. It truly is more blessed to give than receive. I believe that, and I believe in our Lord and all that implies.

    We are here for a purpose but we are imperfect vessels and don't know exactly what that purpose is. I find myself grieving for my loss and having known what my purpose was for the last 22 years, I am at a loss and seemingly without purpose.

    Don't worry about me, it will just take me some time. I do appreciate your counsel.

    Tomorrow I have Christmas dinner with family, something I really haven't been able to do for years, and Monday my son has asked me to go on a road trip with him. Tuesday, its back to work for me. I enjoy the people I work with.

    On a different subject, you touched on something when you posted "Are there no prisons? Are there no workhouses?" (yes, I know that quote belongs to Dickens character, Scrooge). I believe that it would be sinful to remove someone last vestige of human dignity by seeking to force themselves to accept our unwanted help when they do not wish it. So we must accept our helplessness with grace and offer the only help we can, our prayers. (I have given unwanted help anonymously, Matthew 6:2, it saves dignity)

    Blessings to you my friend.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. And to you, Warren, on this the second of the Twelve Days of Christmas.

      You are right about accepting our relative degree of helplessness when it comes to trying to solve other peoples' problems. Only "fools rush in where angels fear to tread."

      This, of course, is the fundamental flaw in the Progressive-Liberal-Statist approach. Most leftists have chosen to abandon belief in Almighty God, and have arrogantly assumed that if there's to be any good accomplished in this world it is entirely up THEM and their SUPERIOR KNOWLEDGE and UNDERSTANDING of what "everyone else" needs. In other words these leftists are trying to "play God," though they'd never think of it that way.

      I have known atheists who are very nice, morally upright people, and who mean well, but their determined LACK of FAITH makes everything they say and do seem hollow, cheerless, sterile and missing the animating force of Soul, Spirit –– and above all God's Love.

      Maybe it's arrogant of me to allow myself to be haunted by the story of Vicky and the homeless young man, because I still feel that I OUGHT to have been able to DO SOMETHING to alleviate their situation. But you are right PRAYER is all I have been able to do about that –– and a great many other things that trouble me.

      And so I count my blessings, which have been considerable, and I thank God every day for all the good things in my life, and hope I may be acceptable in His sight when the time comes for me to depart this earth.

      At the same time I believe we are meant to enjoy life as much as possible, but I learned long ago that endless self indulgence does not produce happiness and contentment –– quite the opposite. Real joy comes in doing whatever we do as well as we possibly can, and in making ourselves useful to those who need our help.

      May the New Year bring you new sources of meaningful and satisfying activity. I hope something heartwarming and really pleasant comes your way.

      Delete
  17. Quick personal note...

    A Christmas first for me — and not a Christmas wish!

    On urologist's orders this morning after I phoned the after-hours number, I spent some four hours in the hospital emergency room because of significant flank pain. An overabundance of caution on the doctor's part: all the tests indicated that renal numbers are within normal parameters, and I am now back to hearth and home.

    Thank God that The Merry Widow was here to drive me to the ER and to keep me company during those long hours.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. AOW-What's family supposed to do? Be there...so, "I be there", for you!

      tmw

      Delete
    2. TMW, you are a rare and wonderful person. I think you have both saintly and angelic qualities. What a wonderful world it would be if everyone made it his business to be as helpful to others in practical matters as you have been to AOW, her husband, –– and many others, I'm sure.

      May the New Year bring you much joy, fulfillment, and continued good health.

      Delete
    3. Thank you, FT! The funny thing is, I get JOY and satisfaction when, I can help...my desire has been to follow in, HIS Footsteps, to see that desire fulfilled is wonderful, amazing, gratifying, and humbling to think that, HE can use even me.
      HAPPY and BLESSED NEW YEAR!

      tmw

      Delete
    4. TMW,
      It's how the Lord wired you when He created you!

      You are a blessing -- not only to Mr. AOW and me but also to many. I cannot thank you enough for what you're doing to help us through this terrible time.

      Delete
  18. When an unexpected opportunity to be generous drops into our laps is when it is most difficult to be generous.

    Merry Christmas and Happy New Year to you and yours.

    ReplyDelete

We welcome civil dialogue at Always on Watch. Comments that include any of the following are subject to deletion:
1. Any use of profanity or abusive language
2. Off topic comments and spam
3. Use of personal invective