An old fat man with a moustache covering his clef palette sat at the kitchen table, sipping coffee. The sound of his wheezing filled the air. His beady eyes followed my movements as I went about scrounging up some breakfast for myself. Something about the man made me feel uneasy. I scraped my oatmeal into a bowl and rinsed the pan. A little brown sugar and milk, and I was ready to eat but I did not want to sit with him at the table. What was this crazy feeling? I took my breakfast to my room and ate in solitude, pondering this change in our lives.
He had arrived yesterday, parking his trailer under the apple tree in our back yard. He had convinced mother that she needed a man around the house now that my father had died. His altruistic motive did not ring true for me. I thought in reality, he probably needed a woman to take care of him.
When I heard him shuffle out the back door, it felt safe to take my bowl back to the kitchen. His coffee mug was still on the table along with the plate from his breakfast mother had made for him. She was already outside working in the garden. I wondered if she didn’t want to sit at the table with him either.
Thus began and continued the relationship with the old man. I was eleven years old, trying to cope with grief and change. He was old, sick, and lonely. He looked disheveled and smelled like death warmed over. Quotations of fire and brimstone came out of his mouth when he spoke at all. I felt no connection or compassion for him. I avoided him, treated him callously and with distain as only an arrogant youth can. He died a short time later. I missed the chance to get to know my Grandfather as a person.
Our judgments keep us from really connecting with others. Everyone has that Christ Spirit inside; the old, the sick, the homeless, the addicts, all awaiting our recognition. Jesus was able to connect with them. It is only our fears and judgments that prevent us from doing the same.