The Kindness of a Hermit
“In Christ it is always ‘Yes’.” – 2 Corinthians 1:19
The year I turned thirteen my family drove across the Upper Peninsula of Michigan. We just tore across the empty north. A blur of pine trees. Until a tire blew and we went skidding, sliding to a stop.
Immediately my sisters, my mother, and I realized none of us knew how to change a tire.
I took my bike off the rack and rode to find help. There were no cars, no houses, nothing. Eventually I saw a two-track winding into the dark woods. I dropped my bike and walked to a tiny shack, which I would have mistaken for a deer blind if not for the world’s tallest television antenna stretching from its roof.
Inside were shotguns, bows, arrows and an old man rolling cigarettes on his coffee table. It appeared that every one of his decisions, from where to live, to what guns to hang from his wall, to the impressive length of his beard, had been made to dissuade strangers from popping in.
I explained our dilemma, wondering whether he’d want money or if he’d make me smoke a cigarette or reach for one of his rifles or simply say “No.” The sun was setting. My heart was pounding. I was helpless.
He was quiet for at least sixty seconds. Then he stood up and his voice croaked. “Yes. Yes, I’ll help you out. Whatever I can do.”
Decades later I still feel relief; a sense that everything will be all right, as if God’s “yes” were somehow still echoing down through that scary loner’s decision to help a frightened child.
Dear God, thank you for the ways your “yes” is always being echoed on this earth. Amen.
Matt Fitzgerald is the Senior Pastor of St. Pauls United Church of Christ, Chicago, IL.