Today as I was taking the streetcar home, I sat across from a seating area that was a mess. There was an empty beer can left, some other garbage, and some crumbs of weed on a folded paper. Definitely not an inviting scene to me but not uncommon. I took my seat in a cleaner spot and was lost in thought when a man got on the streetcar a few stops later.
His personality was loud. From the way he walked and moved to the way he chose to sit near me in the area filled with what I thought was garbage. He threw the can aside, slammed down his stuff, and threw the banner that was supposed to be a barrier out of the way. Suddenly he exclaimed very loudly. “Woah! I was just rolling a joint! Look at all the weed here! Look at this! Who can say there isn’t a God?!” He was thrilled. I mean beyond thrilled… he was ecstatic. I could feel the tension in the car rising beyond normal levels. Stay with me for a second. I know I probably have some more conservative readers here and I’m going on about a guy thanking God for drugs. I do have a point.
This guy was the loudest one on the streetcar but honestly, he was probably the most tuned out. “Another guy yelling on the streetcar”, right? Another person who’s just a little too different to ignore. But there was wisdom in his rambunctiousness. As people looked side to side and tried to keep their eyes on anything else but this guy, he spouted out loads of wisdom. Yes he was thanking God for weed. But he also said, “A man who can’t appreciate a dime will never be a millionaire.” He appreciated what was left behind and found a gift in what was meant to be nothing. He talked about his wife and had loads of knowledge about the Muslim bible, the Quran. He talked about how women should be adored and respected, mothers especially. He said, “Any man who does not respect women, I would look at him and ask where he came from? A woman! He should get down and kiss the toes of his mother.”
We didn’t get far before I reached my stop and had to get off, but I wanted to get out my notebook and take notes from this man. I don’t know exactly who he was talking to. Maybe himself, maybe someone I couldn’t see, or maybe all of us. Some of what he said was hard to track, but a lot of what he said had such value. Respect, finding gifts, knowledge of a holy book. When we look past people that are different than us, we miss a lot. When we look past those that are loud and that sit amongst garbage and thank God for drugs, we miss a lot. I know a lot of people would have walked past this guy and not sat down, but I know that Jesus would.
That feels uncomfortable to me too sometimes. Jesus would sit with the loudest one on the streetcar. He would sit with the crying one. He would sit down next to someone passed out. He would sit next to someone talking to no one we can see. He would sit next to the one drinking the beer and throwing the can aside. Would you? Would I? How can we love others who may look different from us or act different from us? How can we be alongside them? Something to think about… I’m still learning too.
Peace to you.
I am a community worker at The Dale Ministries. For me, doing this work means inviting others into my journey of ministry – prayerfully and financially. If you would like to support the work that I do at The Dale, I would love to chat. Please email me at firstname.lastname@example.org