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Tuesday, October 19, 2010

Chasing the Essence of St. Francis...

“Figúrate, para eso somos los padres,” (or loosely translated, “Imagine, that’s what parents are for”) the man in his late 70’s said as he gave me a ride to my car.

Tuesday morning, I was on my way to my parents’ house for coffee and a quick hello before going to work. On my way, I noticed an elderly man and a woman trying to push a car in the middle of LeJeune Road, several blocks north of SW 8th Street.

As I drove past, something told me to stop and help.  I made a U-Turn, parked my car on the street they were trying to turn into, crossed the street and started pushing the car quickly across the busy avenue. I suggested that the elderly man get behind the wheel and the woman, who was much younger, help me.

We were able to avoid the incoming traffic and moved the car into safety.  They were very appreciative and couldn’t express their gratefulness enough.

After pulling the vehicle to the side of the road, I found out the man lived a couple of blocks away and they were planning on pushing it home so that a mechanic friend could work on it.  I offered to help them finish the job and we started the treck to their house.  While on the way, the woman, who I found out was the elderly man’s daughter, told me she had been praying for someone to stop and help them.

After pushing the older model Saturn sedan into the side of the house, the white haired man and his daughter again profusely thanked me.  In a genuine gesture of appreciation, he said, “Aqui tienes tu casa” (“Here you have your house”) and offered me coffee or something to drink. Knowing I was pressed for time, I was unable to accept. So, instead, he offered to drive me (in another car) back to my car.

As we drove off, I noticed a small statue of St. Francis of Assisi in his front yard and commented on it.  He told me his daughter put St. Francis there as well as several statues of angels around the yard. “She loves angels,” he said.

Then without any prompting, he confessed that his daughter was going through trying times. She lost her home to foreclosure, had recently lost her job and was in the process of getting divorced. She and her 15-year-old daughter moved in with him and his wife.

At that point, he made the statement, “Figúrate, para eso somos los padres.” How true, I thought. Once our children are born, we are called to live a life of sacrificial and selfless love for them and, for most parents, it doesn't end when our kids get older and start their own families.

He then quoted from the Prayer of St. Francis (one of my favorites), “For it is in giving that we receive” and we briefly discussed prayer and the faith.

As we arrived at my car, he extended his hand to me, “Jose Sanchez, at your service. Thank you greatly for your help. I always tell my family that there are a lot of bad people in this world, but there are also many good ones.  May God repay you with many blessings.”

While driving away, I remembered another quote from St. Francis, “Preach the Gospel always and when necessary use words.”

And, I realized, this opportunity had already been my blessing.

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