Wednesday, July 29, 2015

Eldon, not the mountain, the man.

I was on my way home from work today when I could have sworn I saw Eldon. I saw him from the back. A small statured man with a shock of silver hair holding a sign, asking for money. And then I thought, "no way, Eldon never holds a sign and he works whenever he can." And then, I remembered, Eldon passed away last March.

Psalm 116:15 Precious in the sight of the Lord is the death of his saints.

He was a kind man with a sweet heart. I thought he was in his 70s but he was only in his 50s. I think the fact that he had no teeth made him look older than he was. And he had a hard life, with no family around to help out. We would see him around town often. He would always ask for a few bucks for coffee and then ask if we knew about any work he could do. Once we saw him walking to church and picked him up. He was pretty consistant in church attendance. Last year he was diagnosed with lung cancer. Yes, he smoked, and no, he didn't quit. The chemo was really hard on him. He wasn't healthy to begin with and he seemed to get more and more frail every time we saw him. The last time we saw him was at Safeway. We bought him a coffee and a Starbucks gift card. He seemed too weak to stand but didn't want anything except the coffee. The next thing we heard he was hospitalized. The Deacons visited him and he was talking about getting out and finding work. And then, he was gone.

I don't want to forget him. Do any of you Flagstaff peeps have a good memory of Eldon? If you do, please leave a comment. I would love to read your memory.

Tuesday, July 28, 2015

Do not be anxious.

There is an almost constant stream of humanity in our street. Children, playing or riding thier bikes to and from school, and adults; the poor, the homeless, the mentaly ill, the physically disabled. This is in part because we live in Sunny Side, the poorest neighborhood in Flagstaff, AZ and partly because we live across from a food bank; the Family Food Center gives out sack lunches during the day and at 4:30 they start serving dinner to anyone who shows up, no questions asked.

Matthew 25:35-36 For I was hungry and you gave me food, I was thirsty and you gave me drink, I was a stranger and you welcomed me, I was naked and you clothed me, I was sick and you visited me, I was in prison and you came to me.

I hear voices raised in argument, murmered conversations, drunken yelling, different accents, languages, English, Spanish, Navajo. When there are brawls, the police come. When there is real illness, an ambulance comes. Its a busy place.

Genesis 1:27 So God created man in his own image, in the image of God he created him; male and female he created them.

This morning as I opened the front curtains I heard low voices speaking. There was a young couple, maybe in their 20s, walking in front of our house. As I watched, they stopped to rest. She had a little dog on a leash, he was pulling a wheeled suitcase, they both wore heavy backpacks. He stretched his arms, they spoke, he smiled at her, he was missing his front teeth. He lifted the suitcase and shook his head, smiled at her again and started to pull it along as they continued walking.

Micah 6:8 He has told you, O man, what is good; and what does the Lord require of you but to do justice, and to love kindness, and to walk humbly with your God?

I have tears in my eyes and the tightness of fear in my chest. Sadness for their situation and my helplessness to fix it for them; and fear, not of them but for them. What becomes of the young displaced people in our society? How did they get to this point in their lives? And how close are any of us to being in their place?

Matthew 6:25-34 “Therefore I tell you, do not be anxious about your life, what you will eat or what you will drink, nor about your body, what you will put on. Is not life more than food, and the body more than clothing? Look at the birds of the air: they neither sow nor reap nor gather into barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not of more value than they? And which of you by being anxious can add a single hour to his span of life? And why are you anxious about clothing? Consider the lilies of the field, how they grow: they neither toil nor spin, yet I tell you, even Solomon in all his glory was not arrayed like one of these. But if God so clothes the grass of the field, which today is alive and tomorrow is thrown into the oven, will he not much more clothe you, O you of little faith? Therefore do not be anxious, saying, ‘What shall we eat?’ or ‘What shall we drink?’ or ‘What shall we wear?’ For the Gentiles seek after all these things, and your heavenly Father knows that you need them all. But seek first the kingdom of God and his righteousness, and all these things will be added to you.
“Therefore do not be anxious about tomorrow, for tomorrow will be anxious for itself. Sufficient for the day is its own trouble."