The Unkempt Man

A man walked into church one day.  He looked haggard, tired, unkempt and his clothes were unwashed and wrinkled as if he had slept in them for days.  He could not help but notice the stares of the congregation as he moved to a pew near the back of the building.  He could not help but feel their disdain for him as he took his seat and removed his worn and battered baseball cap.

One woman seated directly in front of him whispered to her friend loudly enough to make herself heard by the man.  “Have you ever seen such a sight?  That man has no respect for anyone! Just look at how he came to church.  I can’t believe it!”  Her friend offered no reaction or judgment.

“My dear,” replied the man.  “I have the utmost respect for you.  In fact, I saved your life once.”

For some reason, the woman’s mind traveled back to a time when she sat alone in her bedroom with a bottle of sleeping pills in her hand and a picture of her dead husband in the other.  As she contemplated taking her life, her deep despair lifted and she felt a calm and loving presence sweep over her.  “You are loved, you are needed.  Lift yourself up off your bed and share yourself with the Universe” came a voice from somewhere.  She just could not tell where.

She put the picture down, and as she did she knocked over a small vase.  The single rose it carried fell to the floor.  As she picked it up, she remembered the time when her husband had given it to her just a few days before his accident.  She held it for a moment, and then placed it down next to the picture of him.  Both the picture and the rose would make it inside her husband’s coffin later that day.

Back in the present moment, the woman stared straight ahead at the empty altar at the front of the church as the man continued.

“Do not let my appearance make you forget who I am.  Do not see my clothing as a sign of anything.  Do not judge me for what I wear or how I appear, but for who I am.  I saved you for this purpose.

Rather, see those who taught you to judge as in need of your Love.  Those who see wrinkled clothing as a testament to truth need to see the reality of their condition.  Those who taught you that the veils mattered more than the core are in need of forgiveness.”

The woman remembered the feeling and the tears that flowed when she left the room and saw her children.  She cried openly then as they hugged her and told her how much they loved her.  Yes, Love.  It saw her through her suffering.

“Yes,” said the man.  “That’s what you need to share.  That’s the feeling that matters most.  You can now leave this building, for you have found God’s house.  It is where that feeling resides.”

Tears flowed down the woman’s face as she slowly turned to see the man.  As her eyes made their way to the spot where he had taken his seat just moments ago she saw that no one was there.  The seat was empty save a single rose laying alone on the wood.

Miracles happen daily.  Some we see and most we don’t.  Embrace Love, it’s the only miracle you’ll need.

photo by: dunikowski