Wednesday, August 22, 2012

Jesus wears a Mohawk

God found my selfish heart and turned it in-side out on the MAX this past Saturday evening.

I was reflecting on the events of the day as I was heading home well past midnight. It was a great day. I was hanging out with a best friend all day in Beaverton, doing things that girls do best: pedicures/manicures, gossip and sharing hearts.  This was followed by an awesome dinner date, Voo Doo donuts for dessert and late evening drinks at Portland City Grill, overlooking the Portland skyline by night. Life had been good to me this day. 

The max stops, doors open and in walk two men.

 The first man was drugged-out and barely coherent. I would guess he was in is early fifties, but would not be surprised if it turned out that he was 5 or 10 years younger.  The drugs had taken their tole on his body. His clothes barely fit his frail frame and deep, dark circles surround his red, half-shut eyes.  His name is Joel.  The second man appeared to be in his early fourties, dressed well, slightly overweight, sporting a short, bleach-blonde Mohawk and clearly homosexual.  I share the latter descriptive label understanding the risk that is attached. I do not share my speculative judgement of his orientation as a means of degradation of his humanity, but rather to give you greater insight into the interaction I eavesdropped on and the impact it offered to me.

I did not catch the second man’s name, so I will call him Mohawk to eliminate confusion while I describe to you what happened next.

Mohawk leads Joel to a pair of seats right in front of me, close enough for me to hear their conversation even if I wasn’t trying to hear it (I was).

At first glance, they appear to be friends. One friend trying to help another get home safely after Saturday night Shenanigans downtown together. I was quickly mistaken.

Mohawk begins to patiently ask Joel questions that include:
 “Were you with any friends tonight?” (No)
“Do you have any friends?” (No)
“Is there anyone I can call who might know what your plans were tonight?” (I’m not sure)
“Do you have a phone?” (No)
“Do you know anyone’s phone number who might be able to help us?”

Joel hands Mohawk his wallet, and directs Mohawk to pull out the folded napkins with names and numbers written on them.  Mohawk calls one of the numbers.

From what I can gather, on the line with Mohawk is a relative of Joel’s – perhaps a brother or sister. Mohawk introduces himself as a stranger who had just met Joel and was trying to help him find his way home.  After a brief conversation that I could only catch one side of, the person on the other line begrudgingly agrees to pick Joel up from the Lloyd Center Max Stop. Mohawk thanks the person and hangs up the phone. Five Max stops later, Joel gets off as instructed, to be picked up. As the Max doors are trying to close, Joel haults the doors and pokes his head back in to looks at Mohawk square in the eyes and says “Thank you for helping me”.  Mohawk replies with no words – they both know they aren’t necessary at this point.  A grin emerges across his face as he responds with an affirming head-nod back at Joel.  The doors close and the max takes off. This is probably the only interaction that these two men will ever share.

For those of you who know me well, you know I couldn’t help but say something at this point to Mohawk.  I tap him on the shoulder and express as genuinely as I can that I don’t know many people who would have done what he did for Joel just now. I also share that it was a pretty incredible thing to experience.  I also made sure to thank him as well for what he did. 

Mohawk responded with gratitude and invited me into conversation to more clearly understand what had just happened.

Joel was lost and scared.  He didn’t know where he parked his van hours before and had no idea how to get home now. He reached out to a stranger (Mohawk) on the streets of downtown Portland with a cry out for help, like a child lost from his mother.  Mohawk, who was out with friends drinking that night, took the time to help this man. He didn’t have to do this, in fact, he admitted to me that he didn’t even want to. Joel had interrupted his Saturday night plans. I asked him “Then, why did you do it?”  His response was simple. He said that he would hope that someone would do the same for him if he ever needed it, so he did.  

Mohawk was Jesus to Joel that night. He showed love to someone who was broken, lost and afraid.  He proved to Joel (and to myself) that there are still good people in this world and that love does still exists.

This was a reality check for me, big time.  I tend to get so stuck in my own little world that I don’t realize the opportunities God puts before me all day to change someone’s day for the better.  Why do I automatically feel like saying “No” when a stranger asks if I can spare some change?  Of course I can. I can spare way more than that and I should.

I heard someone say recently that when you start to view everything that you’ve been given (money, gifts, time) as blessings from God, it becomes so much easier to give these things away and pass the blessing on. I want to live like that.

Granted, it’s not appropriate for a 25-year-old woman to take a drug addict’s hand and drag him onto the MAX with you in order to help him get home. We definitely need to use caution when we feel the Holy Spirit nudging at us to make a move. But we shouldn’t be afraid when we’re called to action. 

Mohawk inspired me to share his story in an effort to infect others with his same heart condition.

To not be afraid to say “yes” when asked if you can spare a dollar, or even a few.
To go out of your way for someone you don’t know.

In its simplest form, to leave someone better than you found them. Not for selfish ambition, but because you’ve been blessed so much – now its time to pass that blessing on, to pay the blessing forward.

To be Jesus to someone today.

1 comment:

  1. Another great one, Kathryn! Thanks for sharing.