Two nights ago, Vincent Taylor got on a bus, heading for Seattle.
Mr. Taylor showed up at our door back in December one evening at dusk, asking if he could rake our lawn for a few bucks. No problem, I said--and he raked into the darkness, even as it began to rain heavily. Once I realized it was raining, I stopped him, and sent him on his way a few dollars richer. He came by the house about once a week, and we would find him some odd job to do--pulling weeds, raking, digging our "compost hole" (don't ask--it's another story for another day), etc. When it finally got warmer, he was able to scrounge up a mower, and mowed our lawn as well as a few others in town.
He obviously lived on the street. His story was that he was originally from Seattle, and had come here when his mother became sick. His mother got better, but somehow, Mr. Taylor got stuck here. My wife got him hooked up with the food stamp office. Sometimes he had a place to sleep; more often it was a bench outside of the funeral home. The local police didn't take too kindly to this, and actually told him there was a crack house on the other side of town where he could crash. There were a couple of times where I paid his room bill for a couple of nights at the little motel where he was somehow able to get a room.
It seemed like the last few days things got more desperate for him. My wife and I talked about it, and one night, while taking him back up to the seedy motel, I asked him if he'd like to get back to Seattle. There were tears in his eyes as he told me how great that would be.
So--Monday night, he boarded the Greyhound and headed for Seattle. It's like a 3 or 4 day trip, so he's probably somewhere crossing the Rockies by now.
This isn't a post to say how nice I am, or how generous or thoughtful I am. It's about gratitude. It wasn't that long ago that I too found myself without a place to live, and basically had a van full of clothes and my precious books and that's all. I wasn't on the street like my friend Mr. Taylor, but everyone can find rock bottom some where; I certainly had found mine.
It has been hard, painful work, but I continue to climb up from that bottom. I wake up in the morning in my own bed, with a roof over my head, and a wife and family that love me, and some coffee and breakfast in the kitchen. There are days that I find frustrating, when things don't go the way I planned them. I get angry just like the next guy. But then I think of all that life and God has given me. It certainly puts things in perspective.
I hope, Mr. Taylor, you can find peace; I hope that you can find a way out of your darkness. If I can do it, you can too.
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