Mr. Wendell by Arrested Development
Here, have a dollar,
in fact no brotherman here, have two
Two dollars means a snack for me,
but it means a big deal to you
Be strong, serve God only,
know that if you do, beautiful heaven awaits
That's the poem I wrote for the first time
I saw a man with no clothes, no money, no plate
Mr.Wendal, that's his name,
no one ever knew his name cause he's a no-one
Never thought twice about spitting on a ol' bum,
until I had the chance to really get to know one
Now that I know him, to give him money isn't charity
He gives me some knowledge, I buy him some shoes
And to think blacks spend all that money on big colleges,
still most of y'all come out confused
Go ahead, Mr.Wendal
Mr.Wendal has freedom,
a free that you and I think is dumb
Free to be without the worries of a quick to diss society
for Mr.Wendal's a bum
His only worries are sickness
and an occasional harassment by the police and their chase
Uncivilized we call him,
but I just saw him eat off the food we waste
Civilization, are we really civilized, yes or no ?
Who are we to judge ?
When thousands of innocent men could be brutally enslaved
and killed over a racist grudge
Mr.Wendal has tried to warn us about our ways
but we don't hear him talk
Is it his fault when we've gone too far,
and we got too far, cause on him we walk
Mr.Wendal, a man, a human in flesh,
but not by law
I feed you dignity to stand with pride,
realize that all in all you stand tall
Mr.Wendal, yeah yeah yeah, Lord, Mr.Wendal
Music Video for Mr. Wendal...
I got on the bus the other day and it was totally packed. I had just gone to Trader Joes and stocked up on some groceries. My bags were so full that they were almost overflowing. I could barely carry them. I had waited for the bus for 35 minutes in the hot sun. When I got on and didn't see any available seats, I was even more irritated. As I started to walk toward the back I saw a row of seats open and was confused as to why no one was sitting there. Until I realized that they were located right behind a homeless man. He had several bags full of his belongings in the seats in front of him and he was taking up two seats all by himself. He was smiling, rocking back and forth, and talking to himself. He had two pairs of pants on. The top pair, army fatigues, were ripped in the crotch and were covered in black scribbles. He looked at me as I approached him and we made eye contact. When he looked at me, I saw in his eyes something I can only describe as disconnectedness. He looked at me, but yet didn't connect with me in any way. I sat in the seat behind him as everyone looked at me like I was some sort of martyr. No one that lives in DC can avoid the homeless. Even in Georgetown. But his existence on that bus was offensive to people. I could see it on their faces. They looked at him with pity and disgust from behind their dark sunglasses.
My first reaction was to pray. Not for him. For the rest of us on the bus. For us to see that we are no different than he is. I wanted for us to look at him, even if just for a brief moment, and see him the way that Jesus does. I know that when Jesus looks at me, He looks past all of my mistakes, failures, and imperfections and sees who I am in Him. He sees me as pure. He sees me as beautiful. Jesus does the same for this man. I am just as dirty, filthy, messed up, offensive, and in need as that homeless man. I just happen to make things look and smell better on the outside. I follow societies rules. I don't yell out the windows at random people. I don't have ripped clothes. I don't smell like excrement. I don't sleep outside. I don't beg for money. But, does that make me better than him? Does God love me more and that is why I am not currently offending people with my existence? Am I smarter than him? No. No to all of it. Especially considering the fact that upon further inspection of the black scribbles on his pants, he seemed to be doing some seriously complicated Good Will Hunting-type math problems. My filth is hidden and his is out for all the world to see. I'm almost jealous about that fact. For him, It's all laid out on the table. We are seeing him at his worst. I strive every single day to make sure that no one sees me at my worst. I hide it. I tuck it away. I put deodorant over it. I put makeup over it. I put a smile over it. I put pretty clothes and shoes over it. I spray strawberry-smelling room spray over it, light a match, and turn the fan on. I put perfume over it. I use fancy words to hide it. When you see me, you don't see him.....but he and I are the same. We are both in need of a Savior so that we aren't slaves to our darkness.
God's grace has brought me to where I am today. We look at homeless people and we like to tell ourselves that it was poor decisions that got them where they are. It makes us feel protected to think this way. We think our college degrees, work experience, and our network of friends and family will protect us, but there are so many people living on the street that have or did have all of that. Can you imagine yourself homeless?
My faith is what sustains me. My love of Jesus is what keeps me from being the smelly homeless lady on the bus. Not because I actually have the strength to keep it together, but because in my weakness, He is strong. Do you know who else's mere existence offended people? Jesus. He offended people every where that He went. The Pharisees hated Him and the message He preached. But Jesus didn't hold back. He laid it all out there on the table, plain as day. He didn't try and dress His message up so that it wouldn't offend anyone. He preached the truth. We don't like the truth sometimes. That homeless man on the bus reminds us that all isn't right with the world. He reminds us of our frailty. He reminds us of our filthiness. He reminds us that there is a darkness out there trying to keep us from the light. We just want to go shopping and site seeing. We just want to go to Starbucks. We just want to meet our friends for brunch. We don't want to deal with this right now. We don't want to see it. We don't want to smell it.
I worry all the time about saying something that will offend you all, even if I think it's true. It is the truth in Jesus that is so offensive. And it's not just Jesus' message that can be scary to share. I'm also afraid to tell you about my doubts and fears and questions I have about my faith. I am scared to tell you that sometimes I struggle. I don't want you to know that I have a hard time with "church people". I don't want you to know that I mess up a lot. I don't want you to know that I make the same mistake over and over again. I am scared if I tell you this stuff you'll push me away or you will push Jesus away. I am afraid of speaking the truth and offending you. I know I shouldn't be, but I am. I try and do it anyway, but I don't always do a very good job. Realizing the truth sometimes means that we have to change and we just don't have time for that. We don't want to look at the truth. We want our buses full of pretty people that will sit and listen to their Ipod and not bother us with their craziness. We like things to fit neatly into a box. We are comfortable with that.
As the bus continued up the street, he turned his head to look out the window. The sunlight hit his bright blue eyes. He smiled and wrinkles appeared at the corners of his eyes. He laid his head out of the open window. He had a few tattoos on his left arm. His skin was leathery looking from being outside in the sun. I wondered what he was thinking. I wondered what the world looked like to him.
I wondered about him.
And I thanked God.
A very blessed woman