ANTHONY SEEMED LESS BUFFETED BY the hardscrabble lot facing him and the company he kept — about a hundred hungry homeless men and women streaming past the food laden banquet tables at our church in late January.
Above his turtleneck sweater, a snowbird-like tan.
Wavy salt-and-pepper hair, neatly combed.
A clean-shaven face and trimmed fingernails.
Something genteel in his interactions with us.
I could picture him in a suit and tie nimbly climbing a ladder somewhere in corporate America.
Instead, he sat cross-legged on the floor, like everyone else, to eat his dinner on a paper plate with a plastic fork beside blankets piled there for the temporary overnight shelter operated by Boulder Outreach for Homeless Overflow.
My curiosity about this man deepened when he returned to thank those of us behind the banquet tables for serving dinner and to press a chunk of rose quartz into my palm when I put down the salad tongs.
“Don’t give it away,” he said, smiling.
Of course, there is nothing wrong with passing along things you cannot use or do not appreciate.
“Bless someone else with them,” my mother-in-law often quips when she visits from Michigan and sees my unsorted packrat stashes.
But this interaction with Anthony haunts me still.
Perhaps too many people for too long considered his tangible and even intangible gifts as worthless.
Maybe he started feeling cheap and easily cast off, too.
As we in the Christian community move through the season of Lent — a 40-day stretch before Easter– we reflect on the time Christ spent in a wilderness facing temptations.
For me, it has taken a wilderness experience — this Lenten season of wandering and wondering — to recognize the temptation of getting good at what I have to offer at the expense of getting good at appreciating what you have to offer.
When weatherbeaten folks schlep into our church in their boots and backpacks, we step into our strengths to welcome these hometown travellers with food and water, shelter and good cheer.
One man hollered into the kitchen after that dinner to ask if he could take one of our stuffed snowman table decorations.
But how would these interactions change if I arrived to serve dinner more fully aware of my own dead ends — the places where I feel or have felt stuck and unhappy and in need of help?
What if I arrived believing that someone living at rock-bottom has something to offer that I can’t get from people living someplace else?
What if I accepted the 1.4-ounce rose quartz from Anthony for keeps?