I was sitting here in my office staring at the blank Word document as the rain peppered the window, wondering what I should write. I was sifting a handful of possibilities when I heard the front door close. Assuming it was one another staff member, I resumed my deliberation. Sometime later I was walking through the foyer and puzzled that there were no other cars in the parking lot. With a start, I suddenly realized why: Carlos was standing in the foyer.
Carlos is one of the wildcards of life God sprinkles throughout his world. A Hispanic man who looks to be in his seventies, he always wears a sport jacket, walking shoes and a well-worn straw cowboy hat. The first time I saw him he was shuffling through the church parking lot at slow but steady pace. I waved and he waved back, continuing on his way. That was about four months ago.
In the following weeks, Carlos crossed my path with increasing frequency. Eventually, he ventured inside the church, occasionally helping himself to some donated groceries. I tried to talk to him but got no response. Thinking it was perhaps a language barrier, Pastor Jose tried speaking to him in Spanish, but without success. There are some signs he may be unable to speak.
This does not seem to discourage Carlos from being around us though. He often comes to worship services, offering his quiet smile and wave to all who encounter him. Many try to engage him in conversation and I often try to help by explaining that Carlos is our friend who lives somewhere nearby. In fact, it was on one of those occasions I learned his name, because he pulled out a weathered Velcro wallet and showed us an identification card.
So, Carlos has become part of our church family. He wanders in at least once or twice a week on no particular schedule, sometimes staying only a moment and other times sticking around for several hours. This morning he seemed clearly to be taking shelter from the weather, which was quite windy and wet. I told him he was welcome to wait it out as long as he liked and then went back to work.
I checked on him about an hour later and found him sitting in the sanctuary. He had found the nametag lanyards our greeters wear and was wearing one. ‘Carlos’ it said. He knew it was for him. Carlos sat there sleeping in the quiet, eyes closed and head on his chest, enjoying the rest of God.
I still don’t really know who Carlos is, whether he lives alone or if he has a family. I just know that he is part of our family here at Evergreen, and I am grateful. Who knows, he might even be an angel.
“Do not forget to entertain strangers, for by so doing some people have entertained angels without knowing it.” (Hebrews 13:2)