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Miracle Man

June 1, 2012

You know there is nothing like a delicious Mexican meal with all the extras like the queso cheese and refried beans that they bring in the little bowls with the fresh tortilla chips and salsa.

In my world, going out to eat on a Friday night with my husband is considered a hot-date night and is typical once or twice a month and really, it’s all we have time for these days.  With teenage boys at home, full-time jobs, finishing up my own college degree at age 47 and the maintenance of homeownership, we’re fortunate to have any downtime at all.

On this typical Friday night with our bellies full and salsa breath, my husband and I began our short three- mile ride home to begin our weekend.   Sometimes the unexpected happens and you encounter situations that hook you, pull you in, and change your life in amazing ways and on this evening we weren’t expecting what would happen next.

Pulling out of the parking lot onto the highway we saw a man holding a sign. He was older, in his sixties maybe, with a full-beard, kind of frail looking, and his heavy clothes were soiled with what looked like at least weeks worth of dirt.  He sat on the ground at the edge of the curb waving at the cars but what struck me hardest were the words on his sign.  “I need a miracle.”  Could he have said it any clearer?  What else could he have said or done to make it more obvious that he was in crises and that he needed, wanted, and was requesting some help?

I watched people drive by him, staring, reading the sign and turning away, some appearing disgusted, and some in utter disregard.  Maybe they knew someone once in his situation, had heard about a distant family member with the same plight, or maybe, just maybe, they had stood in his shoes for a fleeting moment only to be rescued in the final hour before experiencing complete destitution themselves.

Immediately tears welled up in my eyes and I could feel my husband looking at me.  Neither of us said a word at first and as we passed the man and turned the corner at the stop sign, I turned and looked at my husband and he said “Ok, I know, but you can’t go back alone”.  He already knew what I was thinking.

God, I love my husband so much.  In that one snapshot of time I realized once more why I had married him to begin with.  You see, he isn’t afraid to roll up his sleeves and help, really help.  Not help in the way that you cut a check and send it to a company that helps starving children, not that there is anything wrong with that, but  help in the way that you roll up your sleeves and touch people; really touch them, without fear of getting your hands dirty.  I believe that this was the way of Jesus, Ghandi, Mother Theresa and many others.  The way of love, deep and real love, unconditional love, and I believe it is our responsibility to reach out and help each other.

I felt a huge rush of gratitude in that moment for all I have, a great job, healthy and smart kids, a home to call my own, a wonderful marriage and the ability to go out and eat Mexican food on a Friday night.  I am warm and safe and I have a bed to sleep in at night.

You see, twenty-four years ago I needed a miracle.  There was a time in my life that I wished I was dead, that God would just take me out because I didn’t want to wake up for one more day.   There were other times that I thought I never should have been born in the first place, that my life was some kind of cruel joke, and that I would never amount to anything.  I believed that my lot in life included violence, suffering and poverty.

We all need miracles I think at different points in time, when we experience the jumping off places- the dark nights of the soul when unanticipated things occur and knock us off our feet into fetal position.   Many of us have  persevered against incredible odds and our inner light, if not snuffed out altogether, becomes our greatest asset, honing us like gold in a brilliant fire, until we shine and rise from the ashes like a phoenix.

When I needed a miracle most, when I finally held up my sign so to speak, I was surrounded by family and even some people I didn’t  know who loved me unconditionally, lifted me up, and made me whole.

So on this Friday night, my husband and I continued driving home, packed up some food and warm clothes and headed back to the man with the sign.  As I pulled away, I watched my husband sit down on the curb with the man and begin talking and in that moment I knew all was well.  Regardless of the outcome, all was well.  Let’s make sure no one gets left behind.  And remember…..Optimists Rock!

Copyright 2012   Robin O’Grady

Facebook: The Optimists Edge

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