Monday, September 24, 2012

It's a small world

Last  Sunday, we talked about compassion at church. Pastor Paul shared with us how compassion is attractive and active.  He then told the story of Jesus in Mark chapter 1; how he took compassion on the leper who was attracted to him. Jesus reached out and touched him before he healed him. We were encouraged to reach out and be imitators of Christ and let his compassion flow through us.  It was a good sermon and I prayed that God would make me more compassionate.   However, like so often,  I forgot about the sermon and went about my Sunday like every other day, being caught up with myself. 

Monday morning, I found myself at the airport waiting to go to the International Mining Show in Las Vegas. Over the last 15 years I have traveled literally hundreds of thousands of miles, but have not really traveled in the last 5 years, so i was a little nervous. That coupled with my always early "gift", I found myself at the airport plenty early and the gate was not yet open.  I sat down across from an older man, who to be honest, was not very clean and did not smell the best.  I also noticed he had an artificial leg, crutches, and a duffle bag.  He made some small talk as I checked my email and proceeded to be busy. When the gates were open he asked if we could go in and I said we could.  I offered to help him with his bag and carried it up to the gate for him. 

He had some issues at the gate with his leg and all and them making him give up his water bottle, so I went ahead and he came and sat behind me in the waiting area, on the other side of security. He said "they took away my  water bottle." I said "they do that now days" and told him he could buy another in the store. He said "not without money. "

We continued to talk off and on and he shared with me how he was hurt in a work accident and was being sent down to MPLS to be looked at by the insurance company's doctor.   He figured they were looking to get out of paying for his work accident. He pointed to his aluminum, chaplain hook, peg leg, complete with shoe, and said " pretty hard to get out of this. "

I excused myself and went and got him a bottled water. I gave it to him and he said "Oh you did not need to do that." I said " I know, but I wanted to." He accepted it and told me how this water was not as good as the one he had. Oh it was good and he was glad to have it, but the other one was pure mountain water.  We talked some more as we were seated back to back.  He told me about his wife dying . About his kids  and his two cats that he had to leave at home.  He was worried about them, they were his companions now.  He told me about in the 60's how he went to UND to play football. He was a walk on, but ended up making the team and lettering. He was very proud of this. 

He asked where I lived and we found out that he had relatives that were my neighbor, and one I use to work with when I was in college. Also found out he had other relatives who were my father-in-laws neighbors in Webster where my father-in-law grew up. "It's a small world" he said. One of his relatives was a Logie. I said I had relatives by that name also, to which he again said "It's a small world."

It was getting close to boarding and I got up to use the restroom.  When I came back someone had taken my seat but there was one across from him so I sat down and we talked some more. I asked him how long ago his wife died and he told me in the spring of 2011. He told me how she died. She had come home sick from work and insisted he go to work and how that was the last time he spoke to her. He shared how she had loved roses and had just purchased two that she was planning on planting, but never got to do.   As he leaned closer and with his eyes welling with tears he shared how he planted those two bushes and each one produced a single rose that year.  This year they both produced 7 roses that bloomed on Father's Day. He figured it was his gift from her. 

It came time to board and I checked his ticket and told him he should early board, as it would give him the time he needed. He thanked me and proceeded to the gate. I handed him my card as I walked by in the plane and wished him a safe journey. 

As I think back there was so much more I could and should have done for him. I did very little other than show some kindness to an older gentleman. I got him a water and let him talk, which he needed, but I think I needed more.  I over looked his appearance, his arthritic deformed hands, and his peg leg and just listened to his story. 

After sitting down in the plane I realized that God had done what I prayed he would do. I also came away realizing lIfe is short and we need to live it for Jesus and show compassion like he does.  That is our role as followers of Christ - to reach out with the love of Jesus Christ to touch the unclean, to show compassion on them. Too often we get all caught up in our life, in making money, in our kids, our stuff (yeah even motorcycles). We put off our calling until the end, and then it is the end, and maybe too late. 

I pray that Erwin makes it okay to the Doctor and home. I pray for his loneliness, and that God would place someone else in his path who can further help him, who will love him like Jesus does. I pray that Erwin knows Jesus' love. And i thank God, how he can take a little prayer on a Sunday and turn this great big world into such a small world!