A new guy showed up this afternoon. He ordered a cup of joe, and started talking, and talking, and talking. He moved from talking to the barista to talking to one of the other regulars. He was loud and repetitive. Interjected here and there, he would say, “If I’m talking to much, you just tell me, and I’ll be quiet.”
After about 15 min, he went to his car to get something. I said to the whole room, “Well, he’s sure a talker, isn’t he.”
One of the guys said, “Yeah. He came in last night and was here most of the evening. I ended up walking with him a long ways after the shop closed. His dad died four days ago, and he’s pretty upset about it.” We all looked at one another, eyebrows raised, as he came through the door again.
He resumed talking, as he had been before. One of our ladies went to the front sidewalk to smoke, and he went with her. A couple of minutes later, a Love Gang guy came to me and said, “I’m going out there. She just looked through the window with that ‘Rescue me’ look in her eye.”
In a few minutes, they all came back in together, and our Love Gang guy began showing the new guy around. I heard him explaining the Free Store and asking if the new guy needed anything. He pointed out the bulletin board with announcements about eye clinics, dental clinics, etc. He showed him the free coffee and told him the most popular items on our for purchase menu. Then he said, “It’s time for us to rearrange the room for church tomorrow. We all help out. Whoever’s here at 3:00 on Saturdays just pitches in.”
Then I watched the new guy help carry chairs and arrange rows, under our Love Gang guy’s instruction, while others in the room emptied trash, washed dishes, swept the floor and wiped tables.
The girl with the “Rescue me eyes” came to me and said, “Can you open the Free Store for him to find a pair of pants. His are soaked. (It’s been raining cold rain all day here.) I told her to go find Miss Judy and see what she can find in the store. By the time the room was cleaned and set up, the two women came back with an armful of pants for the young man to try on.
I watched all of this in amazement. When he went out to his car again, I told the whole room, “Thank you. Thank you guys for being so kind and for welcoming this new guy who is not so easy to be with.” One of them said, “He needs people right now.”
I called our Love Gang guy over and specifically thanked him and told him what a good job of welcoming he had done. He said, “That’s what you did for me, and you have always been there for me. I figure I should do the same for him.”
Tears came to my eyes, and then his eyes began to water. “Don’t cry. Don’t cry!” he said, as he hugged me hard.
This is how love does! The love you give doesn’t just stop right there. It heals. It transforms. And then it multiplies. My heart is so full today.
Dorothy Day said, “People say, what is the sense of our small effort? They cannot see that we must lay one brick at a time, take one step at a time. A pebble cast into a pond causes ripples that spread in all directions. Each one of our thoughts, words and deeds is like that. No one has a right to sit down and feel hopeless. There is too much work to do.”