Rock is a pretty town, especially in the spring and at the beginning of summer.
On most Sundays during that dual-season, the air is cool and clean, and in the
early mornings, the leaves of the trees and the fresh flowers in the beds glisten
from nature’s aleatoric drops of dew. Damp spider webs in bizarre patterns that
only the spider understands, stretch from this tree branch to that one, all the
while throwing fulgurant rainbows of light through the air for all who are awake
to see. The sum total of it all can easily put a Christian in the mood to find
a church, to go inside, and to join the others in giving thanksgiving for the
glory of God.
Lloyd Criss had gone to Little Rock on business, and when
he realized on Friday that he would have to stay over for the weekend, he began
investigating where he could attend church that Sunday. He called several of the
seven churches of his denomination in the city, and all of the spokesmen advised
that as a visitor, he really should pick the big circa-1892 gothic cathedral,
Trinity Episcopal. Trinity was quite a drive from where he was staying; it was
in downtown Little Rock. So when Sunday came, he left early to be sure he would
have plenty of time to get there before the service began.
As he pulled
into a parking space in front of the church, he checked his watch and saw that
he was about twenty minutes early, so he decided he’d sit in his car and enjoy
the mandarins of nature’s morning for a few minutes before going inside. It was
then, he told me, that he got a powerful, distinct and numinous message in his
most inner-being. It told my friend Lloyd that he was about to meet a man in the
church who was in dire need, and that when he did, Lloyd was to give him the one
hundred dollar bill he had in the back of his wallet.
So while he was still
in the car, my friend took the bill from his wallet, folded it in quarters, and
put it in his right pants pocket, and then he got out and went inside the church.
By now parishioners were beginning to gather, so he chose a pew three rows from
the back and sat down, doing his best to not be conspicuous, even though visitors
always are. He looked around to see if he could pick out the person he was to
give the hundred dollar bill to.
then a man came in. He had a crew cut, but was unshaven. He was thin and lanky
– about 5-1l. He had on dirty and rumpled khaki pants and a worn-thin T-shirt.
It looked as though he had all of his worldly possessions with him, and they were
in the plastic grocery bag he had hanging from his left arm. He sat down in a
pew over to the side and a couple of rows in front of Lloyd.
He felt that
must be the person to whom he had been told to give the folded-up hundred dollar
bill. Now the question was how was he to do it? He went to the communion rail
to receive Holy Communion. It was then that he decided that on the way back to
his seat, he’d just stop at the pew of the man, and in a whisper, he’d ask him
to step outside. Then he’d give him the bill. His mission would be complete.
when my friend Lloyd left the communion rail and turned back toward the congregation,
he saw that the man was gone. He was nowhere in sight. Lloyd said that he honestly
panicked. “How am I ever going to explain the mess I’ve made of this to God?”
“I hadn’t done what I had been told to do,” he said to me.
“I can’t tell you how anxious I became.”
So rather than go to his seat,
Lloyd walked quickly out into the narthex of the church to see if he could find
the man there, or perhaps on the sidewalk outside. Just as he walked through the
double doors that separated it from the nave, as if by magic, all of a sudden
the man appeared out of nowhere, and was standing by his side. Quickly Lloyd built
up his courage. “I got a message from God that I was to give a man at this church
this bill. I believe it’s you.” Then my friend timidly handed him the folded up
hundred dollar bill.
The man took the bill, opened it, he then started
whimpering. Then he said softly to my friend, “I haven’t eaten in two days, and
I have no place to stay. I am truly at wits end. As I prayed this morning, I got
a powerful message from God that if I would come to this church, a church where
I had never been before, help would be waiting for me. And it was.”
now both men were hugging and crying. They then walked down the steps and went
their separate ways, the homeless man back into the bowels of Little Rock, but
this time with hope, and my friend, former state representative, Lloyd Criss to
his home in La Marque, thankful that he had listened to The Message.
although each had visited Trinity Cathedral for a different reason, both Criss
and the homeless man had left with the same powerful and personal story to tell.
Cherry's Galveston Memories
May 11, 2011column
Copyright William S. Cherry. All rights reserved
Churches | People