Most mornings and often well into the day at the intersection of Shannon and Cortaro there stands a man holding newspapers with a gigantic smile on his face. His person is nigh a permanent fixture there, as are the newspapers and smile. He smiles through the heat of the Arizona summer as his skin becomes blistered by the scorching sun, he smiles through the freezing temperatures in winter, and all the varied weather in between. Wait at the red light and you will find yourself a recipient of the light happiness he carries with him. Speak to him and you will readily discover that his speech is garnished with impediments and his mind seems somewhat aloof from the established social and psychological norm.
But always, the smile remains so vibrantly that I think he must wear it in his sleep. He greets your purchase of his wares with a cheery, “Thank you. God bless. Jesus saves.” He seems to genuinely want to share that message with all who meander into his realm of influence. Sometimes if you find yourself chatting with him a moment he may comment that the Second Coming is near, as he discerns by reading the events transpiring in our lost and darkening world.
I cannot express in the short length of a simple blog post the respect I have for this valiant though unconventional spirit and son of God. He carries obvious mental handicaps, which would surely obstruct his ability to attain the so called good things in life but his spirit is clear as a summer’s day, and I can’t help but consider that God placed him on that street corner as a warrior in the cause of Jesus Christ, to shamelessly and beautifully proclaim his simple testimony to all within his reach. His advantages are perhaps not the most powerful but he makes use of every instant of life that he has. Do we do as much with the much greater resources the Lord has rendered us? When we find ourselves held in the balance on Judgment Day, will we be able to stand as tall and confident in the presence of the Lord as this simple missionary or will we find that this man so stricken in worldly terms towers above us? When we see him as the Lord sees him, how will he appear? In this society of hustle and bustle that values first and foremost monetary gain, social prowess and unrealistic physical attractiveness let us remember that sometimes the greatest among us are not to be found surrounded by hosts of admirers in fashionable attire, but more likely are the gentle and valiant spirits we find quietly haunting our alleyways and street corners.