This is a 2004 post I wrote in a much older blog from long, long ago and far, far away. I still think of Curly now and then when I see some man on the street looking lost, sad and without hope. This happened at a time in my life when I thought I was finally doing everything right. I was involved in church, I was active in the homeless ministry and I was trying live up to the life God has granted me. I was actually fairly proud of my humility.
After reading this, you may think my reaction was bit over the top. Maybe it was. I did try, after all, and I had other responsibilities and other people relying on me.
I met this old man named Curly once. Only once. He had two dogs who were his best and only friends in the world. I can’t remember their names. I wish I could.
I used to do this homeless ministry for my church. Actually I was pretty much the only one involved in it most of the time. I called it GoDo because of the last line of verse 37 in Luke 10. I would collect as many clothes as I could and on Saturday nights, I would throw them in the back of my truck and go park downtown where I would have some hot food and drinks set up.
During the week, I would make up these flyers and business cards that I would go out and hand-out to people who might be in need, They would have the location and times I would be there.
A lot of the time I would sit there for hours without a soul showing up. Other times I would have mothers with their kids come by and still others I would have drunks and drug addicts. I’d let them take all they could carry or want and then try to collect more later.
Anyway, one week-day when I was downtown passing out flyers, I saw this Old man with his two dogs, sitting on an old torn up couch someone had thrown out.
I approached him gently and handed him the flyer telling him about the ministry and what we do.
He told me his name was Curly, and he got that name during World War 2 while on one of those battleships. He said at the time he had gone bald (I think) and he resembled “Curly” from the Three Stooges so his shipmates had started calling him that and he had kept it ever since.
He went on to tell me how he had just been traveling to visit his son in Laredo, Texas and that the VW bus he was driving caught fire and burned up with all of his possessions and the 2000 dollar savings.. He had made it to Albuquerque and was gonna use the money he had left to take a train to El Paso where he knew he could “HOBO” his way to Laredo. But the train wouldn’t allow his dogs without proper papers. (I really wish I could remember their names) So, almost in tears, he told me that he had to give his dogs away or just leave them their to fend for themselves. He asked if I could take them.
I don’t remember what I told him, but it was something along the lines of I’ll check around and see what I could do for him. I went on my way.
I made a call later to see if my pastor could take over the GoDo thing for me and that I was gonna drive this guy I met to El Paso. I went back and couldn’t find him. I asked around and looked everywhere I could think of but I couldn’t find him. I couldn’t find him.
This comes to my mind now and then. I wonder a lot about what happened to him. Did he find a way to keep his dogs? Did he have to leave them behind, his best friends in the world? I just don’t know and that bothers me a lot.
You see, this is what I should have done… I should have said at that moment, “Curly, my truck is parked just down the block and I would love to take you and your dogs to El Paso or even Laredo, so you can get to your son.”
That’s what I should have done at that moment in time. I should have, right then and there, called my pastor and told him to take over or don’t because I had more important things to attend to.
I didn’t do that and I’m not sure why. I just left to continue handing out the rest of my flyers.
Before this, I used to get tinges of pride that what I was doing was important and good and that even if nobody showed up, I was always down there on Saturday nights just in case. But afterwards, I realized that, life isn’t about me or what others think of me, it’s pretty much of how I think of others and what I’m willing to do to show them that.
I wish I could keep that in my head all the time. I don’t though. And tomorrow when I wake up I’ll be back to my same old worries and concerns. Because tomorrow it will be about me. And not about some broken old man named Curly who’s only friends in the world were his dogs whose names I don’t even remember and who I didn’t help when I had the chance.
As the Christmas season approaches though and we Christians celebrate Christ and as we struggle everyday to be examples to others, (I’m the poorest example if ever there was one) the question I think of and did at the time, is, would Christ have blinked? More importantly, would I still blink? I do everyday when I pass a man on the highway or holding a sign. How far do we go as Christians to help others? How far did Christ go? The answer is, Christ went to the Cross. I didn’t even even go to El Paso…
If the there is a moral here, I think it is best summed up in the words of that great sage, Yoda: “Do or do not. There is no try.”
Going half the way is only going half the way.
If ya know what I’m saying…