Christ Came to Visit Me Twice Last Week

May 2, 2024 | Blog, Essays

            Christ came to visit me twice last week. The first time he stopped by my house in the form of a door-to-door salesman.  It had rained all day so the weather was very cool and refreshing outside.  Inside, the added humidity made the air sultry and oppressive.  So, we opened the front windows to let in some of the crisp, rain-washed air.  

The salesman surprised us by coming up to our double front windows, arms opened wide, with a big smile on his face and saying, “Hi!” like he was an old friend ,whom we hadn’t seen in ages, come back to surprise us.  His friendliness was contagious and the kids clamored to the window to get a better look at our unannounced visitor.  I stepped outside to give him my stump, “I’m not interested in whatever it is you’re selling” speech that I give to all the salesmen that come to our house, closing the door behind me to keep the kids inside.

            Before I could even start the process of delivering my well-rehearsed speech, the salesman gave me a warm hello and maybe the biggest smile a person could possibly make.  I couldn’t help but smile back, my speech evaporating before it ever materialized.

            The salesman had not lived an easy life.  He didn’t say so, but it was obvious.  His clothes were clean, but a little tattered.  He had done many, many demonstrations with the cleaning equipment in the well-worn wheeled suit case he dragged behind him from house to house.  Half of the bristles on the wire brush he used to demonstrate his cleaning product on the side walk and the porch were bent askew.  His old, formerly white rag bore the signs of having been used in hundreds if not thousands of cleaning demonstrations.  His battered spray bottle was chipped and sometimes gave him trouble.  He wore a necklace of permanent markers strung about his neck with an old piece of cord.  He was reminiscent of the lovable tramps in my kid’s vintage 1950’s school readers.

            Despite his obvious lack of material prosperity, he was cheerful and professional. He aimed to sell me some cleaning product, but he wasn’t pushy.  Only intent on making sure I understood how much easier for me this cleaning product would make the drudgery of cleaning.  And how much safer its all-natural components would be for the kids and dogs.  And how it was 100% made in the USA.

            He had memorized a novella’s worth of information about the cleaning product and rattled it all off to me in a sing-song manner like he was telling me a riveting story.  And a good storyteller he was.

            He was beautiful.  I can’t explain exactly what it was about him that made me think so, but think it I did.  He was a lovely human being.  At one point, my daughter banged on the window for his attention and showed him the hole from which one of her teeth had recently broke free.  He, in turn, showed her the hole from which his two front teeth had broken free long ago.  They shared a kinship and joy, he and my child.  They spoke a same unspoken language and laughed together at some unuttered joke.  It was then that I realized that this visitor was the Christ.  

            I purchased his cleaning product and said goodbye with a little melancholy.  It had, indeed, felt like a visit from an old friend and I was sad to see him go.  When I turned to go back inside, my suspicions were confirmed when I saw the mark left behind by his cleaning demonstration on the front patio.  Radiating from the grime on the cement was a cross.

            The second time Christ came to visit wasn’t at my home but at the Home Depot.  My husband had abandoned me to watch our cart of wood parked near the checkouts while he went, for the seventh time, to go get “one more thing”.

            As I stood there, hoping I wasn’t blocking any fire lanes, a little old man came up to me holding a plank of wood and said, “I’m going to fix my grandfather’s mailbox.”

            “Your grandfather’s!” I said in amazement. The man before me was easily in his 80s.  His grandfather would have to have been, even conservatively, around 116.

            “Twenty or thirty years back,” he said, “My mailbox broke.  So, I went and got my grandfather’s mailbox from the land he’d left me.”

            “You didn’t want to just buy another one from the store?” I asked.

            “The new ones don’t last,” he said.  “I wanted my grandfather’s.”

            “And now you’ve got to fix it?” I asked.

            “The side rotted out.  I got this here to replace it,” he said, holding up the plank of wood for a moment for me to see it.  “I’ll have it back in service in no time.”

“You know,” he said, leaning a little towards me, like he was letting me in on a secret, “I’m getting a garage built.”

            “Really?” I said, taken back a bit by the sudden shift in topic.

            “I need to protect my cars from all the weather.  I’ve got a ’97 Buick Le Sabre and a ’92 Grand Marquis.”

            “Those cars are indeed treasures,” I said.

            “You can see the construction from Highway 152.  Just look down at the blue house off Indiana.”

            “I’ll keep an eye out for it,” I said, quite taken with the conversation.  Here was a man that had found spiritual childhood.  He was so full of joy and took such delight in everything.  That’s why I suspected he was the Christ.

            It was then that a shadow crossed his sweet, smiling face.  “My wife passed away 4 months ago,” he said quietly.  “We were married for 67 years.”

            “I am so sorry!” I said, my heart breaking for him.  67 years!  I had only been married 20 years but the thought of life without my husband was already unthinkable.  I could imagine after 67 years it must have felt akin to losing half of one’s body.

            “If I start talking about her, I’ll start crying,” he said. 

            “There’s no shame in that,” I said.  “I’m sure it will be like that for a while to come.”

He was looking at me with such steady eyes.  Something important was coming.

“I’m worried she didn’t get into heaven,” he said.

This man was a stranger.  I had never met his wife nor knew a thing about her.  I had no idea why he was having these doubts about her eternal resting place or why he was telling me about them.  I am not good in situations like this.  In fact, I’m pretty sure I externally advertise that, as a person, I am a mess and I would be no use to anyone trying to figure out answers to unanswerable questions.

Regardless, this is where I found myself.  Being a mother, his childlike demeanor made me feel in my element and kept me from panicking internally.  There was something about him that drew me out when usually social situations like this had me retreating inward and rendering me only capable of saying awkward things.

I looked at the grieving old man, looking at me with the seriousness that only a child had and thought, if this man loved her that much, there had to have been something in her that recognized and drew her towards the love of God at her death.  For 67 years, she had a daily icon of God’s love living with her in her house.  I had great hope that she made it.  And I told him so.

“You think so?” he asked, with such trust.

“None of us can say for sure, I suppose, but I think her chances are very good,” I said.  “I will pray for her repose and for your comfort, but I think she’s okay.”

“Thank you,” he said, his countenance returning to how it was before he mentioned his deceased wife.  The twinkle was back in his eye.

My husband had paid and was motioning for me that it was time to go.

“That’s my husband, “ I said.  “I better get going.  It was nice to meet you.”

“Thank you,” he said again with a very kind smile.  

“I promise I’ll pray,” I said as we parted.

There was no material confirmation this time that it was the Christ at Home Depot, but sometimes when you know, you know.

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