i don’t know what to do with larry.
when it’s 42° tonight and i put my pampered head on my contoured pillow, my mind will turn over what larry said.
he's from tennessee and hopes to move back to pulaski in april if he can get his checks coming in again, so says his lawyer man, and i wonder where he’d pick them up if they came.
i tell larry it’s cold today! and larry says, “cold? cold is when snow is up to here and you’re throwing hay out to feed the cows; this ain’t cold,” but he smiles when he says it so i smile back even though i feel all wimpy inside with my red nose and without thinking i pull my gray scarf a little tighter around my neck with my gloved hands to keep the goose bumps from showing.
i ask where he spends his nights. he has three choices, he says. salvation army is one, the rescue mission is another, but his favorite? see that bridge over there? i see it. that’s the one. (the one i drive my air-conditioned and heated car over when i'm going from here to there doing this and that for me and mine.)
i ask him why because even though my mind can’t fathom sleeping at the salvation army or rescue mission it sure can’t imagine stealing a wink under a bridge. so larry tells me. at the other two places you gotta room full of men and when you get a room full of men...well, with a twinkle in his eye, he waves his hand in front of his nose...and laughs. i understand what he means and i laugh too.
wouldn’t i rather sleep in the open air than in a room full of smelly men even if i were one of them? i get that as much as a princess can.
but how do you stay warm at night, larry? i stay plenty warm, he says. i have two thick blankets and a mattress because i'm not gonna sleep on this hard ground.
and i zip up my jacket a little higher trying not to shiver too noticeably.
he pulls something out of his pocket and offers me a cigar from his box of 3 for 99 cents. but i tell him no thanks because that’s one habit i never started and i hear it’s real hard to quit so i don’t want to start now. he knows and says they’re good anyway but the only bad thing is the label says “good times” when it should say “hard times,” and i don’t doubt larry.
but if grace doesn’t play favorites i wonder why larry’s grace looks so small compared to the blessings i rake in every day?
i can justify and say (in my head) larry made bad choices and that’s why bad things happen to him and why he sleeps under a bridge while i sleep in a king-sized bed with an electric blanket and i'd be partly right.
but i don’t want to feel superior about my good choices and think secretly i earned these things i have because i worked hard walking through three stores to find the right shade of green for my bedding to match the sage green on my walls.
maybe grace looks different to different people and i don’t have to feel guilty about mine but just pass it along when i can, even when it doesn’t make sense, even when all i'm doing is putting a top on a bowl of chili for larry to take back to the bridge. it doesn’t seem like much grace to show a fellow journeyman.
maybe grace is bigger than a network of clean people with decent jobs and garaged homes in the ‘burbs and kids on scholarship at the university.
and maybe grace is even bigger than cigar-smoking men on dirty mattresses in fresh-air homes that cars drive over all night under the stars.
i want to look around me for God’s sake and see he shows grace to all his creatures except in different ways and grace flows from one to another and back again and we’re never the same in the crossing.
by grace let me touch and pray and thank and question and wonder and ache and laugh and praise and do it all again tomorrow.
and larry...i still don’t know what to do with larry except to know he’s there and he’s real and my God is showing him grace too, through us but also to us, even though his grace looks way different from my grace and i'd rather keep mine, thank you very much.
our grace in common is more than i know because God loves not one more than the other and he intersected our journeys on a cold saturday morning to show us both his love the same.
i don’t know. i don’t have to. may grace be grace.
* * *
Day 15 of . . .