Editor’s Note: FMS board member Lee Lechtenberg shares how a conversation with a stranger showed him a deeper insight into humanity and the affection of fellow recognition.
Walking down an autumn morning street, I eyed the old man approaching me scuffing his boots. He is stooped and tugs a small cart with two plastic buckets and a long staff. Shoulder-length hair hangs over his face. His wet-suit is unzipped to his navel – over it an open grease-stained vest.
Split-second take. Split-second decision. Hmmm? Step up my pace? He won’t look up anyway. No.
“Good Morning. Where are you headed?”
“Check my traps, lobster traps. I get a few …now and then – not many.”
“Was it a good summer for lobster?”
“Good until June. Not no more. I’m gonna get some scallops though, some scallops. No more lobsters- jes a few. What can you expect, huh? The way things are going? People don’t want to help no more. Nobody wants to help ya. Used to be they would say, “Your truck gotta problem, drive it on the rack, we take a look. No more, they don’t do that no more. What’s your name?”
“I’m Gerry. Yeah, people don’t want to help no more, brother Lee. “
Gerry drools on his vest when he talks and sprays a lot. He doesn’t look up at me.
“I been a lot of places. I don’t live here, I live on Maple. I been in institutions. They put me in for crazy reasons. I threw something at a guy. But the world is going down now. Not like when I got out, I thought the world was a lot better, but not now, brother. I’m right with the Lord though, brother Lee. I’m right with the Lord. Them institutions though. Whew. I don’t care how much medication they give em, THEM PEOPLE ARE CRAZY!”
We laughed. Parted. I continued down the street delighted, feeling very fond of brother Gerry and brightened of a morning by him.
Reflection Questions: Overcoming small fears: Could this be a way to rehearse an attitude of habitual open love? Is there a substantive difference between doing a kind act and actually taking delight in and loving another?