Tuesday, March 16, 2010
A man named Joseph
It was hard to tell his age. He looked old and used up to me. His eyes were blood shot, his clothes were worn. He shuffled over to me when I got out of my car. He asked me in a raspy voice, "Hey there, could you give me some money for a cup of coffee and some food. I'm hungry." Something told me that if I gave him money, it wasn't going to go for food. I thought it likely that he would head for the grocery store around the corner and buy a bottle of whatever he reeked of as he stood there looking at me expectantly.
I asked him what his name was. He said, "Name's Joseph." A biblical name, after the man who descended from King David and who was the earthly father of Jesus. I told Joseph my name and asked if he wanted to go have a cup of coffee with me. He nodded and began to follow me. I told him that I was going to a meeting around the corner and that maybe he would like to go with me. There were some nice people there, lots of coffee, and some cookies. He kept following me.
So the two of us, strangers until a few minutes ago, walked along together. We didn't have much of a conversation. Joseph said that he hadn't eaten in a while. He said that I was "mighty nice" to take him to this meeting where there was coffee and cookies. I was thinking that I was pulling a fast one on Joseph and starting to wonder what the hell I was doing.
We were at the meeting just as the coffee was brewing. The cookies were out on the counter. I told Joseph to get some cookies, have a seat and that I'd get his coffee when it was ready. We sat next to each other. He said, "Dis here is a nice place". After I got his coffee, I asked Joseph if he would like to stay for the meeting. He mumbled that he would stay.
As people filed in and took their seat, Joseph looked warily around. This is not an uptown meeting. It is filled with a mixture of all types, some in suits, most in jeans, some down and out. It is raw and real. I thought that maybe Joseph could relate. I know that I did.
I guess that I was hoping for a miracle to happen. The Al-Anon in me wanted Joseph to see "the light" and get the message. I had not fully understood at the time that surrender isn't mine to bestow on anyone. It's not like the free coffee and cookies.
Midway through the meeting, Joseph got up without even a glance at me and shuffled out the door into the cold winter day. I never saw him again.
Thanks to Chris for prodding my memory of this brief encounter.