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  • Man On A Sidewalk

    April 18, 2010

    The other day I was on my way to pick up Sean from school when I saw a man bent over on the sidewalk.  That is not something you see around here everyday, so it caught my eye and I slowed to see what was going on. And I couldn’t quite tell.

    I couldn’t tell if he was having a heart attack and had dropped to his knees. I couldn’t tell if he had been jogging and was winded.  I couldn’t tell if he had stopped to examine a bug or perhaps he had just stopped to tie his shoes. But something about it sent my antennae up. Something was not quite right.

    But I was running late as usual, so I didn’t stop.  After I retrieved my child from school, I circled back to see if he was still there.  He was, so I slowed and rolled down my window.

    “You doin’ okay?” I called towards him from a safe distance.

    He looked up, surprised.

    “Yeah,” he sighed.  Then, “No. Not really.  I’m having a really bad day.”  He sounded tired, not so much in body but in spirit.  A fatigued spirit is the worst kind of tired; no amount of sleep or vitamins can restore a weary soul.

    “Oh, I’m sorry,” I said sympathetically and empathetically. I’ve had a few days in my life where I’ve wanted to collapse in a heap on the sidewalk and cry.

    “You wouldn’t have a cigarette, would you?” he asked from the sidewalk.

    “No, I’m sorry, I don’t,” I said.

    I look in my rear view mirror.  I can see Sean looking at the man through his rolled up window.  He is taking it all in with curiosity as though he is watching a movie waiting to see what will happen in the next scene.

    Without any cigarettes, I could see that there wasn’t much beyond sympathy I could offer him, so I promised that I would send up a prayer for him.

    Offering to pray for someone is a risky thing, and to be perfectly honest, I don’t do a whole lot of that sort of thing, particularly with strangers, but there was something desperate about the way he was hunched over on the sidewalk that evoked an upwelling in my heart and a desire to do something to relieve his burden in some small way.  He could have told me where to stick my prayers, but he didn’t.

    He smiled just a little. I thought I saw a glimmer of hope, a tiny spark.

    “Thanks man, thanks for stopping, thanks for checking on me, thanks…” he rambled.

    “Hang in there,” I said. It didn’t quite convey the encouragement I wished for him, but it was all I could think to say.

    He cut such a sorrowful figure standing there that I couldn’t help but to wonder what it was that had brought him to his knees on a sidewalk in the middle of the day.  I could think of a hundred things, maybe a thousand.

    As I pulled away, Sean asked how we were going to pray for him.  “We don’t even know his name,” he pointed out.

    “That’s true,” I said. “We don’t know his name and we don’t know what is troubling him, but God does.”

    As we drove home, my little boy and I prayed for a man on a sidewalk.  It was all we could do.

    Thee and Thy Shadow

    April 13, 2010


    The Night Visitor

    April 12, 2010

    I’ve watched enough episodes of The Nanny to appreciate that when Sean goes to bed at night he falls asleep and stays there in his bed where we left him until morning.

    That he sleeps all night in his own bed has worked out well for everyone here at the House of Antique, especially for me, she who requires a fair measure of uninterrupted beauty sleep. Or maybe it works out for those who live in this house with me. It’s open for debate.

    AD can take some credit for Sean’s good sleeping habits; he established a good bedtime routine early on and God can take the rest of the credit because that’s just the way he made him – a mostly compliant little guy who is pooped at the end of the day.

    Sean started sleeping through the night around three months but probably would have started sooner had it not for his clueless mother.  The hospital sent us home saying we had to wake him up every two hours to feed him and I didn’t want to get in trouble from the hospital so I did.  Although I recall that he gave me dirty looks leaving me with the distinct impression that he might prefer I not wake him.

    Then later, when we didn’t have to wake him up to feed him, I hadn’t yet noticed that he had grown so much that every time he stretched he bumped his head on one end of the bassinet and his feet on the other, thusly waking himself up about every two hours.

    Around three months, I got so desperate for a good night’s sleep that one night I put him in his crib in his own room where he looked like a minnow in a mighty ocean.  My heart broke just a little as I headed off to my own bed to sleep the night through, but the need for sleep is a powerful thing that will trump just about any other desire of the heart.

    But from there on out, he slept through the night, as did I.  And that was good.  Very very good.

    However, there was a season of his childhood before he learned to pull up the covers that he would sometimes make his way through the dark house in the wee hours of the night to get in bed with us.  Sometime after midnight, he would toddle down from his room in his footsie pajamas, scramble over the mountain that is his father and then burrow under the blankets between us.  And although co-sleeping has never been right for our family, I can certainly see why some people choose it.  Falling asleep with that little boy all snuggled into me made for some sweet dreams.  I felt like I was robbing time, stealing back something I had misplaced.

    But for the past year, since he’s had his big bed, we’ve had no night visitors.  AD and I took notice recently and lamented it.  But then one chilly night last week, our night visitor showed up again, just like in days gone by.  He’s too big now to tuck into the hollow of my tummy, so I made space for him on my pillow, pulled him into me and drifted off to sleep smelling his hair.

    The next morning I got up early leaving the two boys to dream their boy dreams while went off to have some coffee and gather myself for the day.  But it wasn’t long before the little boy showed up and climbed into my lap.

    “Hey Mom,” he yawned. “Did you notice I got in your bed last night?”

    “Yes, I did notice,” I said.  “I loved having you snuggle with me. You haven’t done that for a long time.”

    “Will you pay me a twenty five for that?”

    “You want me to pay you for sleeping with me?”

    “Yes. A twenty five.”

    I felt cheap and tawdry, but I opened my desk drawer, pulled out a quarter and gave it to him.

    It was worth it.

    The Rifleman

    April 9, 2010