So, I was walking back to my car last week from getting some lunch when I heard a man ask, “Are you sad or happy?” He was collecting shopping carts from people in the parking lot. Wearing an apron and a Ralph’s supermarket cap, he approached shoppers as they transferred their groceries to their cars and each time he repeated his question, “Are you sad or happy?”
I recognized him. He sits in the same spot every Sunday at church. He’s an adult with special needs. He’s maybe, fifty? “Yep, that’s him,” I said to myself. I’ve never seen him outside of church. I grinned a bit at the moment of recognition. He’s so sweet. During the “greet your neighbor moment” at church, he doesn’t say hello, but he gives a strong handshake, looks you square in the eye and says convincingly, “I’m happy.”
Well, anyway, I stood next to my car for what seemed like minutes watching him tour the parking lot in search of carts and answers. From what I could tell, everyone gave him their carts, but nobody responded to his question; probably because they didn’t expect it or they didn’t exactly catch it. Nevertheless, I shut my door and began walking his way. He didn’t ask me anything, but when I got close enough, I offered my hand and an answer. He didn’t recognize me I’m sure, but we shook on it. As if we had just agreed on a game plan, he simply nodded and said, “Yeah.”
With a lump in my throat, I nodded right back, turned and walked away.
Guys, I spent last week at the Joni & Friends Family Retreat in the great state of Texas. Over the course of the next few days, I’ll be sharing my thoughts about certain moments, but in short, I’m a mess.
See, Family Retreat is an opportunity for kids and families that are impacted by disabilities to converge and submerge themselves in love and fun and games and Bible and worship and respite and joy. It’s unreal. What I write will pale in comparison to the experience, but you know me, I’ll try to take you there.
I’ll take you to meet Kevin. A former Dallas cop with a brain injury. I want his heart.
I’ll take you to meet Ryle. Spina bifida imprisons his little body, but his spirit no arena can hold.
I’ll take you to a welcome ceremony, a pirate’s play and a talent show. I’ll take you there. And I’ll introduce you to a small team of people leading the charge in Texas for kids and families impacted by special needs. I’ll take you to them. Then get ready.
If you’re looking for another reason to serve, to train, to hard-charge the week, to eat right, to see your health or illness through the Gospel’s lens, to see through the suffering, I have one…I’m happy.
- Jimmy Peña
And thank you so much to those that commented on last week’s entry about our newest line of merchandise. So much in store with the new brand to benefit those impacted by disability. Grateful. This cap will go to someone that follows Texas. (Be sure to let me know in the comment section.) Have a good week everyone.