Vagabonds and the like

I’m a very lazy reader. If a book or post doesn’t have something to do with vampires or a future apocalyptic meltdown I’m usually too busy to pay attention.

But I was on facebook today sending a message and a post from an old friend caught my eye. Her name is Ginny Beckes and she’s really one of my mother’s friends, but some people are ageless and I like to claim her as my own. Here’s what she says:

“Been thinking about an LDS news story about a Bishop who dressed up like a vagrant and attended his own ward. Hoorah for the idea and the story but let me tell you about College Park Ward here in the DC area.

It is not only ethnically diverse with members from many nations but also culturally diverse with converts; old timers who are the glue that keeps the ward running from year to year; young married post grad students who cycle in and out yearly but are fully active while they are here. It is also full of many handicapped, elderly and poverty stricken people. I have never seen a ward be more accepting of each other or take better care of each other. Yes, they have a terribly long ‘unassigned list’ but they care about it (and give it to us to work with.)

They have their own personal vagrant. Most Sundays he comes in the door as soon as it is unlocked and sleeps on the couch with his various bags and collections in front of him. Recently I was standing nearby and watched as members surreptitiously stooped by his bags, dropped something in and went on in to the chapel. By the time he shambles into the chapel it is getting full yet people move over, not to distance themselves, but to make room for him. Children sit next to him, fascinated and parents only remove them if they are pestering, not to distance them from him. He is usually wrapped in dirty blankets and smells bad but I have noted that the blankets change and often a clean one is sitting on the couch and a dirty one left behind. Not long ago I stopped abruptly and turned around while leaving the chapel, he was behind me and I nearly crashed into him but for the first time looked him directly in the eyes. They were clear, intelligent and probing. I found it disconcerting, wondering why I had never really looked at him before. I was left wondering what is he doing for us instead of what are we doing for him?

Have a wonderful Christmas. Our Savior Jesus Christ came to save all mankind. We desire to be His disciples by serving others just as He would. I know that He lives and that He loves us, every one of us. He expects us to love one another in the same way. It is the work of our lives, but such personally refining work as we serve others. This is my testimony in the sacred name of Jesus Christ, Amen.”

I think I’ll try a little harder to see the Savior in the people around me this week. He is everywhere, isn’t He?