Big L pulled me aside this past Friday evening. He wanted to talk to me. We’ve known each other for the past three and a half years. He’s known for drinking 32 ounce “soda pops.” That’s what he calls his beers around me.
Our friends at First Christian Church here in town were present and had a good number of their members in our room serving pulled pork sandwiches. They’ve been very active on The Block and know a number of people from the street by name. Big L was in the room with them and joined in the the friendly and comfortable conversations that took place. It was when I walked in that he pulled me aside and said he wanted to talk.
Of course I said OK and we stepped outside. Big L stepped over to the bench donated by Faith Fellowship and sat down and I sat next to him.
He began, “I want you to know how much I love all of you. You guys have taken care of me like no one else ever has. When I got sick, you took me to the hospital. Do you remember that?”
“Of course I do.”
“Well I remember too. I remember y’all buying me clothes while I was there so I could have something clean to wear. Remember?”
“Do you remember y’all coming to see me when I was in jail? And you put money on my commissary card?”
“Y’all have helped me when I needed rides to the doctor and to my cousin’s house. Y’all feed me and let me stay here during the day.”
“We’re your friends.”
“My family doesn’t do nothing for me. I love y’all.”
“I know. And we love you too.”
“You don’t know,” he said with tears in his eyes, “nobody has ever loved me before.”
“Jesus loves you and always has.”
“Thank y’all for taking care of me,” he said as tears rolled down his cheeks.
I sit amazed at the stirring I see in him as Christ moves within the heart of a friend who is truly a brother. A realization that there is a depth beyond relationship. It’s kinship. As Christ is my brother, Big L is my brother. Christ bringing together two different people from different experiences and backgrounds into this marvelous bond of true family.
To steal an insight from Gregory Boyle from the song “O Holy Night”: “Long lay the world in sin and error pining
Till He appeared and the soul felt its worth.”
Big L was made to face his value through the accepting embrace of brothers and sisters from First Christian and three and a half years of Heaven on earth from others. And a soul felt his worth.