Three men. The common thread shared among them is blatantly obvious. Ten feet and the distance is closing. It's too easy to just nod and walk on, averting our eyes from the heartbreak of humanity. That man with the plastic bag of groceries? That's all he's got. Sometimes, just talking to people, people who have a story to tell will leave you feeling like your very soul has been ripped open. People are lost. People are searching. People are hurting.
Nineteen years old. Daddy- already dead. Nineteen years old. Mama-dead, gone. A young man stands alone, too old for the system, yet too young to have a foot hold in life. Too young and no one to show him how to rise above the hand of cards life has dealt him; the circumstances born in. The cycle begins: Alcohol, drugs, homelessness. LOST. The next thirty four years will bring little change. He extends his hand, a hand worn by age and hard, hard living. Rough, rough skin. A face withered from living life in the outdoors breaks into a toothless grin. The stench of alcohol escapes with his greeting of “Hello ma’am”. I raise my eyes to his. I try to peer beyond his sunglasses. I know why he wears them. My soul literally feels broken into a million pieces as this “Black Sheep” as he calls himself, shares bits and pieces of his story. “Frederick” he says. Not Freddy, that’s the other guy…not Fred…”Frederick”. That’s the name he makes sure I know. The name he wants brought before my Father. The name he repeatedly says “Always, remember Frederick in your prayers ma’am.” This man, who seems so much older than his fifty three years, wants to make sure “Frederick” will be lifted up, not forgotten.
“Frederick”, sir, [Black Sheep] sir, my Father, MY FATHER searches out the lost sheep, that ONE sheep who isn’t safe in the fold. Are you a believer Frederick? Do you know the Father?” He says he does. He folds his hands to represent prayer , looks up and points up with his hands still folded and talks about “God”. He knows who his Creator is. Still, Frederick wants to be on someone’s prayer list. “Every day pray for Frederick. Say my name.” The prayer list grows, to include Frederick, Freddy and the third man too.
I fought tears walking back to my car. I don’t fight them while remembering this man and his friends. I let them fall. They solidify that the hurt of humanity is raw. I hope it doesn' heal. I don’t want to forget…
Luke 15:1-7 Then drew near unto him all the publicans and sinners for to hear him.And the Pharisees and scribes murmured, saying, This man receiveth sinners, and eateth with them. And he spake this parable unto them, saying, What man of you, having an hundred sheep, if he lose one of them, doth not leave the ninety and nine in the wilderness, and go after that which is lost, until he find it?And when he hath found it, he layeth it on his shoulders, rejoicing. And when he cometh home, he calleth together his friends and neighbours, saying unto them, Rejoice with me; for I have found my sheep which was lost.