Thursday, July 01, 2010


I live near and work in Houston. From a climatological perspective, God may have performed initial trials in developing the weather for Hell here. As I drive to work each day I take the 610 loop and exit from there to my office. It's the most heavily travelled traffic corridor in the United States, with attendant heat, noise and pollution that you would expect.

At the corner of 610 and San Felipe last year, a black man sold newspapers for the Houston Chronicle. He'd wander out into traffic for those who held up some quarters and deliver several pounds of newsprint. He was big hulk of a man. What drew my attention to him though was his smile. Though we never met, the joy of Christ was in this man. I could tell, because he couldn't keep it from pouring out of his face into the world around him. There in the middle of hellish heat, defeaning noise and smothering exhaust this man spread joy into a busy world. He would wave at everyone, not just his regular customers. And after a while, everyone that turned west on San Felipe in the morning began waving back.
It just felt good.

Then one day a few months ago, he disappeared, and was replaced by a small white boy, dirty and unkempt, who had no joy in him. No smile. No wave. Just selling newpapers in the heat. Yet a funny thing happened on the way to work. You see we commuters all had become so accustomed to sharing God's peace in a silent wave and a smile that when we pass that corner, we continued to do it. God knows how many of us there are, hundreds for sure. Maybe thousands.

Which leads us to the work of God in changing hearts. If you stand on a street corner in hellish heat and humidity, and day after day a thousand people wave at you, something happens. And it did. A few days later, he began waving back.

And as I made the turn this morning, I think he may have even smiled.

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