My brother Joe and my sister-in-law Michelle are some of the bravest people I know. They face their brokenness and that of others as directly as they can and then turn it into love. Amid all the Christmas festivities, they’ve discovered its true meaning and are sharing it with their children. Thus is the ancient Word borne from generation to generation. Here is an excerpt from Michelle Berger’s Facebook post about their Christmas:
The Honda sleigh, complete with vantlers, and a big red nose, with thee little angels, two lovely women and one big strong, gentle man had one very rewarding and wonderful Christmas night! The evening shift began at the Seattle Union Gospel Mission and with the many people on the streets around. Joe bought 22 big ass cans of Snow’s Clam Chowder and a big ol thing of Starbucks (folgers) coffee, in addition to our goodie bags. My good friend Andrea brought 45 goodie bags too, some with socks, some with gloves, all had candy and a few had the coveted dollar wrapped 3 cigarette treat. I’ll tell ya, Joe serving hot chowder and hot coffee out of the back of our Honda Sleigh and the kids, Andrea and myself handing out the goodie bags, was like a festive holiday party.
People were so kind, grateful and gentle. “God bless you”, ” merry christmas darlin” they said to Sorelle. After this morning, Gage and Zev are pros. It was inspiring how much these humans appreciated a warm cup of chowder or coffee and who doesn’t love candy, money and cigarettes?..
Well, me. .I hate cigarettes but I also hate snows Clam chowder out of a can but thankfully, tonight was not about me.
Some asked if we had underwear, blankets, water, wipes to clean themselves with. . Just the basics we generally take for granted. We didn’t think of that this year. To my surprise, most of these people aren’t even wasted or on drugs. Maybe some mental disorders but even a few told us they were smoke free and sober, they just wanted candy wink emoticon. Overall, this night took last year’s Christmas night to the needed and welcome next level.
The reward was more profound, as well. . An irreplaceable feeling of connection and pride came from being of service and talking to these people just like they were already our friends. Such magic in that human to human dynamic. First we extend unsolicited kindness and in return we receive a priceless gift of a growing heart and a widened perspective of the various plights of people in our own backyard.
I loved tonight, we all did. There is just something indescribably rewarding to love on this level. Next year I think we’ll stock up all year from Costco, with all the stuff these friends actually asked us for, socks, gloves, underwear, sanitizing wipes and blankets.
This is good. Maybe it’s not for everyone but for our family, Joe in particular, this feels right, appropriate and just plain good … better than presents, better than a meal that takes a day to make and better than laying around in our gluttonous luxuries. Two worlds, connected by the the God that lives in our hearts and no amount or lack of material things, can diminish that powerful and triumphant gift of Christmas Spirit.
Merry Christmas, to our friends near and far, I’m grateful to share the planet with such grace, generosity, kindness and love and all I gotta do, is open my eyes and look around. . That is a blessing I pray for us all!
The picture above is our friend Frederick, who told Joe, who’d shared conversation with him this morning with Gage, that he’d been squeezing his size 12 feet into a 10 1/2 pair of shoes and that he could really use a winter coat to add a layer on these cold, cold nights. We had that at home and we could bring them to him and answer his need. The fact that Joe remembered, and came back to him tonight, he told Joe “made his night, because he felt special”. We knew his name, and kept our word, our kids he treated like family. He’s a kind man, already looking out for our safety. He made two new friends in Joe and Gage and it proves once again, that ya just never know who is gonna be the messenger or when hope is gonna show up and change everything.
Merry, Merry Christmas one and all, may we all sleep with full and peaceful hearts tonight. Amen.