Today a gentleman stood up and told two stories. To me, these stories are the crystallization of the Gospel of Jesus Christ. Whether the people in the second story were Christian or not, I do not know, but they certainly acted as if they were the very definition.
In the first story, a farmer, we'll call him Dale, noticed an issue with his irrigation. The water began to wane in one area. So he checked it out and found that a neighbor, a fellow crop farmer, had dammed up the irrigation ditch and was usurping the water. So Dale took out a shovel and went with his boys to the area of the blockage and began to dig it out, so the water would return to his land. The man who had created the dam was so angry he actually took out an axe and went after Dale, who used his shovel to staunchly defend his right to the water. The altercation ended with incredibly bad feelings. The man who had dammed the water began to openly hate Dale's family. It came time to harvest. And Dale loaded up his kids in the truck to go to work harvesting his lands. But as he drove along, he took an unexpected turn into the other neighbor's property. The children thought he had lost his mind. But he explained that he had heard that the man was sick, too sick to harvest his own fruit, and he knew it had to be done immediately. So the man and his children, before even harvesting a single bit from their own farm, went and worked one full day for this man and placed the produce carefully at the back porch. One of the children remembered keeping one eye on their work, and one eye on the back door in case he came out with the axe again. The man was so grateful at the end of it all that he told Dale how sorry he was and at Dale's funeral years later he said how much of an example Dale had been and that he had become his best friend.
The second story was about a man who had a bad year of auto accidents, and to make matters worse, they kept happening in other people's cars. He knew he had a jack and a spare, etc. in his own car, but in other people's cars you are the mercy of their idea of preparedness and they seemed to always be lacking. So this particular year that he kept having issues he noticed that no one in America stops to help a fellow traveler in trouble anymore. Whether it's because we are all wary about safety or in too big of a hurry, whatever the reason, the only people that kept coming to his aid were immigrant workers. One time he was in a friend's Jeep and got a flat but didn't have the tools, only a spare. And again, no one would stop. So he put out a sign, NEED JACK, WILL PAY $$. Shortly after, a group of immigrant workers from Mexico stopped to help. It was a family. The father got out and came over with his English speaking daughter to help translate. They were here in America to pick produce for two weeks before returning home. So they got out their jack but the Jeep was too high and so they actually found some wood and cut it down to act as a brace for the jack. Now I personally have never heard of this but I guess he had a folding tire iron and the thing broke. The head came clean off. But the man explained to his wife in Spanish what he needed and sent her away in the van and she returned with a different iron and the men went back to work. It must have been something of a feat because to hear the way the speaker told it the men were muddy sweaty, smelly, messes by the end of it all. But the family had a jug of water and so the men were able to clean themselves up after and refresh themselves. The traveler tried to give this family money but the man wouldn't take it. So he went over to the mother and snuck a 20 dollar bill to her as quietly as he could. As he was getting back into his Jeep the daughter asked if the man had eaten yet. He said no, and was in fact starving after all of this time and effort. The girl handed out the window a tamale wrapped up in tin foil. The traveler took it back to his friend's Jeep and opened it up, and there inside with the tamale was the 20 dollars. He glanced back at the van but the father just looked at him and shook his head. The traveler tried one more time to give it to him, because this man had not only stopped to helped him but had surely lost a day's wages to do so and then ended up having to spent his own money on a new jack. The man just said, with a lot of effort, "Today...you. Tomorrow...me."
There I go again, I'm totally crying. I love this story. These people were probably as poor as people can possibly get and yet they gave their time, their money, their hard work, their food and their love to a total stranger. Because they were humble and good. I believe in God. I believe that if these people keep going around being amazing like this, then yes...today that traveler but tomorrow...them. I learned from a kind Bishop of mine while I was a broke single mom that if I gave, I would actually receive and he was absolutely correct. Jesus knew what he was talking about, you will receive. This is the gospel and it works. Amen.
Amen? Ok sure why not...Amen.