God’s love makes everyone unique

Published 9:29 am Thursday, February 8, 2018

I’ve mentioned before about how most small towns have unusual characters who are disrespected and mocked as an embarrassment to the community.

Like folklore legends, these outcast individuals are remembered for their strange behavior while it’s hardly ever mentioned about who they really are.

Recently the subject came up again about these odd men and women and I thought that instead of just feeling sorry for them, I could learn a valuable lesson about treating others with dignity.

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The notable recognition list included a few such celebrities as, shopping buggy man, barbershop man, dancing girl, Ahab the Arab, and a man they called “Eggs” who would sit on Main Street day and night and just quietly watch the traffic.

I’ve spoken with some of these people in the past and discovered they are not homeless or penniless, they just enjoy walking around and doing what makes them happy. They wave when people honk their horns and will gladly take a sandwich if you bring them one.

I read a story a while back, about two young girls that were playing on the front porch. As one of them raised up, she spotted an older woman coming down the sidewalk pushing a tattered baby carriage. She was wearing old wrinkled clothes but was not doing anything wrong.

Most people around town knew her as “crazy Mary” the lady who picked up odds and ends from the trash. As she quietly passed by the front of the house, the girls started mocking her and calling her names laughing and giggling.

Even after the woman was out of sight, they continued talking about her and judging her harshly until they looked up to see the father of the girl who lived there staring at them. He sent the friend home and calmly told his daughter to go upstairs and change into her church dress. She did as he said without saying a word and soon returned. He said they were going for a walk and on the way he wanted her to think about what she had done and to prepare an explanation about how sorry she was for being cruel.

After a while of awkward silence with only the sound of their footsteps on the sidewalk they came to a little shack and the little girl knew they were at the right place when she saw the baby carriage sitting next to the front door.

They both approached reverently and he knocked on the door. The lady inside slowly opened the door and the girl’s father said they had come to say hello if it was alright. She graciously invited them inside.

The little girl looked around as her eyes tried to adjust to the darkness. It was a small room filled with trinkets and the basics of living and she watched nervously as the woman proceeded to make tea.

Finally, in the awkwardness of the moment, the father spoke up and said that before they could partake in her generosity his daughter had something she wanted to say. The little girl presented a seemingly sincere apology that passed his approval and he took the tray from Mary and placed it on the only table in the room.

The conversation was about the weather and other topics of small talk until suddenly the father stood and thanked her for her kind hospitality.

The walk home was again uncomfortable as the little girl’s mind was swirling with so many questions about not only what had just happened, but also about all the other people in the world who live like this. Did something happen in Mary’s life that caused her to be this way? And then she thought about how people condemn this woman just because she’s poor (like her and her friend had done earlier).

When they arrived home, she went up to her room and stared out the window as if it were a portal to the unknown mysteries of life.

She thought about how things are not always the way they seem and how everyone walks a different path within their journey.

We are unique in our own way but just because we’re different does not mean we are bad or deserve to be treated harshly. Her dad never mentioned it again and neither did she. There was no reason to.

Dr. Billy Holland lives in Central Kentucky with his wife Cheryl, where he is a Christian author, minister and community chaplain. To learn more visit: billyhollandministries.com.