God goes to great lengths to up-end our misconceptions of mercy
by Guest Blogger – Melissa Riddle Chalos
I’m a ‘glass half empty’ kind of girl. ‘Skeptic’ is written on the hard-drive of my psyche, with a melancholy tune hardwired into my DNA. I’d like to say I wish for a more enthusiastic disposition, but I never really have.
That said, my life has been a series of signs and miracles, jarring little revelations from God, mud for my blurry-blue eyes, always asking, always answering: ‘See the beauty in this life I’ve given you? Look. Right. Here.’
The most recent, glorious speck of mud looked just like this:
Once a month, I deliver meals on wheels to elderly people in one of Nashville’s lower income housing projects. One of my deliveries is to Mr. Warren* an older gentleman, much like I imagine my father would be if he were still on the planet: an alcoholic Vietnam vet, a chain smoking, always-shirtless widower who, before he lost his wife, buried his only son.
This time last year, the only joy in life he had was in the form of a feisty, yellow cockatiel named, ‘Lady.’ She sat on his shoulder and ‘talked’ to him, when he had no one else. But the bird died. And with the bird, what was left of Mr. Warren’s hope.
Now granted, I learned all of this over the past four years, in five-minute increments at Mr. Warren’s front door. But you can know a lot in five minutes, if you have an ounce of curiosity.
The last time I spoke with the old man was in November. He was barely there, but I gave him his meal, and said, ‘You know, Mr. Warren, I really think it’s time for you to consider getting another bird.’ He schluffed off my suggestion with a ‘Nah, it’s no good.’
But then last Wednesday, God washed the mud off my eyes.
Two months after our last encounter, I returned to deliver Mr. Warren’s meal, and as I was heading up the sidewalk, he opened the door wide and said, “Come meet my ‘Pretty Girl,’” his eyes all lit up. “I got her on the 4th! Isn’t she a beauty?!”
She certainly was. In fact, you could spend your entire life counting Puffins and Quetzals and African Crowned Cranes and never see a more beautiful bird than Mr. Warren’s ‘Pretty Girl.’ Because she softened his stone heart and shined life back into his eyes.
And once again, God has revealed himself in the humblest of circumstances, shattering our misconceptions of mercy, bolstering our understanding of grace.
Once again, hope takes flight on the tiniest of wings.
*not his real name
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