I subscribe to an email thingie called "Heroic Stories" www.heroicstories.com
Sometimes I read the stories and shake my head in amazement and often I cry as I read about the kindness of those "who have" to those "who have not." Often I wish I were more like the people I read about who are willing to give their all unconditionally. I struggle with that.
As a church secretary I often deal with people asking for help. They show up at my office door almost demanding for assistance like it is their "right". Or they call and when I ask how I can reach them they give me a cell phone number. Helloooooooo if you can't afford a loaf of bread, you probably shouldn't be spending money on a cell phone. I will admit that I am always thankful that we have a lady who really cares about those asking for help - I gratefully pass these requests on to her. I am ashamed at how little I seem to care. I do care... I really do... but how do you tell the difference between those who have done their best and yet the system, or worse, their "loved" ones, have stomped on them, from those who have abused all the good that has come their way. Maybe it shouldn't matter. If someone needs help, no matter why, I should give it. But that isn't right, is it? It makes my head hurt!
Well, this one struck a chord with me. I'd like to think I have it in me to be a Brother Ed. I'm not sure I do. Do you? Here is the story:
In August 1980 an ugly scene brought my 13-year marriage to an end. I fled our home with my two children, $5 and nowhere to go except my mother's. Staying there more than a couple nights wasn't an option. The next morning I headed out to find help. The welfare office referred me to an emergency agency that found a small apartment. It was dismal and in a rough area, but I had to make the most of it. A woman there wrote down an address and said to go tell "Brother Ed" she'd sent me. The address was a nondescript warehouse near a Catholic school. Inside,f loor to ceiling held everything imaginable from furniture to clothing. A short, unassuming, thin Caucasian man approached, introduced himself as Brother Ed and asked how he could help. Scared to death about the future, I told him who sent me. Brother Ed led me through the packed maze to a clearing, his "office". He sat me down, offered a soda, and his lunch! He softly asked me totell my story. He listened as it poured out... years of abuse, the fix we were in. He nodded, concerned, asked few questions, and accepted my tears. He offered neither sympathy, nor disapproval. When I felt too wrung out to speak, he went to work. We toured the place as he anticipated our needs, referring to himself in third person, as "Brother Ed". He selected twin beds for my children, a sofa bed for me, sheets, blankets, clothing, towels, washcloths, small kitchen appliances, cooking utensils, everything we'd need -- includingi roning board and iron!With each step I felt more dumbfounded. Was I expected to pay? Nothing was new, but it represented a small fortune to me. I couldn't believe hewas GIVING this stuff to us! Within minutes, a huge pile was gathered near the doors, and Brother Ed explained the furniture would be ready that afternoon. With his next question my heart sank, "Do you have a way to move everything?" As my mind whirled, he said, "You can use Brother Ed's van." I should return at 5 p.m. with helpers, load the van, move everything, then return the van. All matter-of-fact, as if he'd known me his entire life. Overwhelmed, I couldn't believe that he seriously would allow total strangers to disappear with his personal vehicle, possibly never to beheard from again! But that's exactly what happened. I did, of course, return Brother Ed's van along with my eternal gratitude. I later learned Brother Ed was a local Jesuit. The warehouse stored donations for the order's second-hand store. Though his vocation was helping others, I will ever remain indebted to Brother Ed. I do what I can to pay it forward. I've never forgotten his selflessness, and am still deeply touched and grateful, and can only guess how many lives he has touched. I truly believe Brother Ed saved me and my children. I know he saved my spirit.