It was my day to deliver for Meals on Wheels. I was checking my route to calculate how many houses I had left. This was the second home, and it was the saddest stop. An invalid lived in a dark basement room at the base of a sloping driveway. As I made my way down, I looked through the only window. All I could see was a cross hanging on the pane and the dimmest outline of a man inhabiting a chair. I went around back and knocked on the basement door. An aide opened it, took the meal, said “Thank You,” and quickly closed the door. Not another sound. This was my fourth trip to the hidden spot beneath the quiet old house.
As I walked back up the driveway, I heard a voice with an astonishing quality, youthful and exuberant. It was the man in the chair. In the timbre of his two words, “Thank you,” a boy was speaking to me. Until I heard him, I was bored with the day and blue. Here was a frail, old man living without the sun or family who could share the thanks of a boy receiving a welcome gift. It felt like a little miracle, and it was a far greater gift than I gave him. He reminded me that there is life and goodness inside us at every age and in every circumstance.
Certainly, we’ve read many inspiring stories about the human spirit. The heroes and heroines are usually larger than life. Men and women who become social icons and markers for a journey in faith and perseverance. This old man, with a boy’s thanks, means more to me because people like him keep us sewn into the fabric of daily living with open hearts and ears intent on discovering joy.