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I didn't know George. He'd called me out of the blue and asked if I could take him shopping. I reluctantly said, "Yes."
George had heard that I took Hugh, a friend of his, to the grocery store just about every Saturday. Hugh was my father’s age or older. He was quite the jokester. I valued my mornings with him. Hugh and I would eat brunch and then do the shopping. We both enjoyed our metaphysical discussions and shared books on spirituality and healing.
George didn't say a word when I picked him up, and not a word all the way to the store. At the supermarket, I followed George around for what seemed hours. I watched him pick up each item, analyze it for a full minute, place it back on the shelf, and then pick up another. My mind had a meltdown. And there was still the silent ride back to George's apartment and the silent and slow carrying of bags into the kitchen.
While carrying the groceries in, I noticed a sheet draped over something in the corner of George's living room. I broke the silence. "What is that?"
George didn't say a word, but removed the sheet and plugged it in. "It" was an electric xylophone. I had never heard of an electric xylophone, much less seen one. After a few seconds, it started humming softly. George picked up two sticks and started playing — beautifully.
I was blown away. That's when what I heard made me see.
Before the music, I'd been judging George. I'd pronounced him slow and boring, with nothing to offer the world or me. But once the heavenly melody started, I suddenly saw life — vibrant, beautiful life, in his hands, his eyes, in his music, and in his smile.
The melody that so gracefully flowed from George shook me. I was humbled. His music forced me to begin using the spiritual ideas Hugh and I would discuss at our Saturday brunches. I saw, first hand, that Spirit's children are always powerful and full of splendor. Each one has a brilliance that can't be seen through a distorted, judgmental or materialistic lens.
I am still learning to look past what, at first, I may perceive about others. Dignity is a foundation stone of life. And it is important to appreciate the richness of each individual’s spiritual being. Respect can even lead to healing.
Not long after this experience with George, I was serving in the Christian Science Reading Room when a homeless man walked in and told me he had been diagnosed with hepatitis. He exhibited symptoms of the disease. The man mentioned that the hospital could or would not keep him. I asked if he would like to sit and get comfortable. Immediately, he walked into an adjoining room, sat down, and began reading a magazine.
A short time later, a friend came in. This friend and I talked and laughed for a minute. The homeless man ran to where we were and asked how we could be so happy while he was suffering. I told him we believed that God knew him, respected him, and loved him. We did too. And we were confident God would help him. He was infuriated by my response, picked up the Reading Room phone, dialed 911, and asked for an ambulance. He went back to his chair and waited.
Minutes later, an ambulance arrived and he was taken away on a stretcher.
The next morning, as I was opening the Reading Room, the homeless man walked up. He told me that at the hospital he had been reexamined. This time, no trace of the disease could be found. He looked well and happy. He said. “I just had to come back to tell you.”
I’m learning that I can remain fooled by what hides the richness of another’s individuality or I can push past my own materialistic perception of them and start respecting who they really are. If I am able to appreciate their higher nature, we both have the opportunity to be transformed and healed.
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