Sojourner and the man sat outside the diner enjoying the slight breeze and the hot coffee.
“How long have you been in the area? Where did you grow up?” Sojourner asks the man as the server brings the coffee. The man took a sip and after a brief pause, he responds, “I’ve been here for about 6 months.”
“Where were you before?”
Sojourner’s mind wanders a bit as he recalled stories of his grandfather. Sojourner’s grandfather often talked about Topeka. The railroad that grandfather worked on would often pass through Topeka. Sojourner took the pocket watch from his pocket and gently tapped the nickel plated back of the watch. He remembered grandfather looking at this same watch each time a train passed. He would always say, “right on time” with a proud smile on his face. The Santa Fe’ route was one grandfather often worked and he always made sure to get out and talk to the townspeople of Topeka.
“My wife left with our son and daughter a couple of years ago.” His voice cracked as he spoke those words. The lump in his throat from trying to hold back the pain gave him reason to take another sip of his coffee. “My life spiraled out of control after that [LINK TO RESOURCE PAGE]. Everything I thought I was working so hard for came crumbling. When she left, I found it harder to wake up in the mornings. I struggled to make it into work on time. Eventually I lost my job. I was in debt. I lost the house. I lost it all
Sojourner knew the pain all too well. Not only had he heard similar stories, but he had also experienced his own trials and hardships. He took off his newsie hat and held it near his chest. The hat belonged to his father. His father would often wear it to keep the sun out of his eyes as he worked the family farm. It was a tough time for farming as it was just near the end of what is commonly referred to as the Great Depression. The details were different, but Sojourner recalled how lost his father felt when his mother left. Life seemed to crumble and everything fell apart.
“Pray? I haven’t done that in such a long time.” The man said matter-of-factly as he took another sip of his coffee. “I’m not sure how much good it would do. The big guy doesn’t seem to care what I have to say lately.”
Sojourner smiled an understanding smile as he replied, “I’m sure those feelings are real. I’m also sure that you should give it a try. He does care.” Sojourner took the watch from his pocket and looked once more at the time. “I’ve seen you here a few times before. Would it be okay if we had coffee again sometime? I would like to hear more of your story.”
The man smiled, “I’d like that. I don’t get to have many conversations with people. They usually turn the other way to avoid eye contact.”
The small round table under the canopy outside the local diner provided a perfect place for Sojourner to sit and enjoy a small breakfast and a cup of coffee. He came here often as it became his favorite spot. It wasn’t far from his place, and he enjoyed getting outside and sitting there as the slight breeze provided relief from the hot summer sun.
The proximity made it possible for him to walk there despite the pain he often felt in his right leg. He rubs his leg to acknowledge the moment of slight pain and quickly opens his Bible and grabs his pencil and paper. Journaling had become quite important to him over the years. “Blessed are the poor in spirit… blessed are those who mourn… blessed are they who hunger and thirst for righteousness.” Sojourner quietly reflected on those words spoken by Jesus in Matthew 5. Thankful that Jesus seemed to show dignity to those who may often feel overlooked, a slight smile comes across his face. He scratches his gray beard as he whispers, “thank you, Jesus, for your blessing.”
He takes another sip of coffee as he ponders his life. So many faces and names and places run through his mind. He had lived a life of struggle and hardship. The lessons he has learned through the years have given him a greater appreciation. He is filled with joy and contentment because of his relationship with God.
Sojourner looks around and sees the man a few tables down. The man is noticeably homeless. His clothes are tattered and smell of urine. His hair is long and unkempt and probably hasn’t seen a comb in a month. His eyes are bloodshot, and his speech is slurred as he talks to himself. Nobody is sitting in the area near him. The occasional glance in his direction is accompanied by condescending snickers or whispers of condemnation.
What is his story? What events led him to these circumstances? Did he once have a family? Is he able to work? Was he hurt?
Sojourner sits and begins asking questions……