Earth Has No Sorrow that Heaven Can’t Heal………….

I knew, deep in my heart, that it was inevitable.  I have been waiting for weeks, on guard, and prepared, or so I thought.

Two years ago this area was rocked by the murder of a mother of two in scenic Mount Gretna, Pennsylvania.  In broad daylight.  At the Jigger Shop, a restaurant full of children, tourists and wait staff.  The shooter sat at a bench, outside of the parlor, in wait.  His woman had spurned him, and this time he wasn’t about to let her get away.  One bullet.  Killed her instantaneously.  But the perp had another bullet he was saving for himself, and let’s just say-he didn’t miss.

The man who was guilty of this unspeakable crime?  My friend Patrick Derr.  Patrick dated my sister in law.  He was the first person I met when I moved out here, and he was an alcoholic and cocaine addict who abused women when he used.  I remember the first call I received from his wife, Pat had come in drunk as a skunk and wrecked the Christmas tree.  I could hear her child screaming in the background.  I ran to the house and talked to him until he passed out-his wife and child upstairs behind a locked door.  He went on to abuse his next wife, and actually did prison time for almost killing her.  He left behind a mother and two brothers, and I ran into his brother Mike today-living out of his car, no teeth, running from the law.  He had just enough money to pay for his drugs, and after that…………nothing.   Jesse and I were hiking at Middlecreek, and as we pulled into the parking lot, unrecognizable to me, he shouted,

“Hey Michele!  How are you?”

I did not hesitate.  I walked over and hugged him tightly, lost for the words I promised myself I would speak should I see him.  His last words were, “I love you, kiddo.”  I had my head together after the hike, and as I approached the lot I knew exactly what to say:

Mike, I beat this.  I know your pain.  Please turn to Jesus, He loves you-I can help you make a fresh start.

He was gone.  And as I started the jeep I looked where his beat up truck had been, and wept.


The Stoic Squirms………..

I was yelled at by a homeless man this morning.  Full throttle anger, and I can’t say that I blame him.  I carry water, protein bars and devotionals in my Jeep at all times.  But for the grace of God go I, and for as long as I can remember, they have held a place in my heart;  their plight makes me anxious, unhinged….barely able to breath through my sorrow.

After shopping at Giant, I noticed a man sitting on a bench, next to a gym.  My golden retriever looked at me as if to say:  DO SOMETHING.  I pulled into the parking lot, grabbed the goods and proceeded towards the man, approaching him with caution.

“Hey bud, uh, how are you doing today?  I brought you a snack and………………..” he cut me off before I could finish my sentence.

“But you SHOULDN”T HAVE.  I like to sit here and do my crossword puzzle.  I already had a snack and I am FINE.  It’s time to move on…….”

The alcohol coming from his breath, his dirty, wretched clothing, his body odor….all clear signs of need.   I have a strong background in social services, and I know the schizophrenia rate is very high among the homeless population.  I wanted to say something, anything to comfort him-give him a respite from day to day abominations.

He then did something I didn’t expect.  He touched my arm and whispered, “You’re a nice lady.”  And so I left him, but not with his dignity in tact.  We must ensure they are respected, cared for, prayed for and loved-without hurting their pride, or injuring their souls.  Will I give up on my ministry?  No.  Will I think twice before offering a drink and devotional to the least of these?  Yes.  But I will pray for God’s guidance and will, in hopes that I bring momentary love to a life so clearly bereft of compassion.