A Silent Presence

I came across this blog entry yesterday and was sucked into reading the whole thing. It’s about a homeless man that lived out of his car for years and in his passing, left behind several lasting impressions, even though he practically never talked to anyone.

The short version –

Jack lived out of his old school blue maverick for nearly 20 years. That old car didn’t move an inch in any of those years. It occupied a spot at the Schuck’s Auto Supply and stood as an icon for many Seattle residents that would pass by it on the way to work or when running an errand at the local Fred Meyer. He never made much of a scene, always sipping coffee in the corner of the Jack-in-the-Box or cleaning up and shaving in the grocery store bathrooms, he spent most of his days inside his car.

In those 20 years, many people found a connection with Jack. Though most of them never spoke a word to him, for some reason, there was a comfort about him. They always knew where they could find him & he’d never disappoint. But one night, a grocery store employee found him collapsed in the parking lot and immediately he was taken to the hospital. He passed away at the age of 58 from heart complications. Many curious “regulars” noticed his absence and were asking questions and soon news had spread that Jack was gone. Following the news, there began to amass a pile of flowers, thank you cards, and notes remembering Jack’s life taped to the car, so it won’t fly away. Local residents say they’ll miss him, even though they never spoke a word to him.

All this got me thinking…

What makes this man such an influence? I mean, he didn’t even speak a word to most of these people. He had the same routine everyday, spent every night in his car, yet dozens of people were effected by his “quiet” life. For me, there stood out three unique things about Jack that made him such a high impact person:

1. He was content – Many people offered Jack their homes to stay in, blankets to sleep with, and food every night. Yet Jack would kindly turn them away, saying he had everything he needed. Call it foolishness or pride, but I think it was simply because he was content with what he had. He knew he had everything he needed in this world. No addition of “things” was going to make him happier. In a world where bigger is better and more is not enough, Jack’s lifestyle caught people’s attention.

2. He was consistent – Many people found comfort in him and looked forward to seeing his blue maverick in the parking lot, because they knew that he was always going to be there. Day or night, you knew if you were going to the Fred Meyer, you would see Jack. There was a consistency about his life that people saw. They knew his routine and it was inviting. In a culture where we’re so erratic and “too busy”, Jack was consistent and always available. People would sit with him as he had his morning coffee and read his newspaper at the corner table at the Jack-in-the-Box every morning. They stopped to chat on their way to get auto supplies. Jack was there and always willing to talk.

3. He had character – Jack was himself. There was no one like him, nor did he try to imitate anyone else. Who else lives inside their 1970 Maverick in the middle of a public parking lot (and enjoys it!)?!? People were attracted to him, because of this. The world craves originality. They crave uniqueness. And when they find it in a person, they flock to them.

Isn’t this what we all aim to be as a Christian? Someone that can influence people so much, sometimes without even speaking a word? Someone who’s life does all the preaching? Someone that is “missed” when they’re not there? I’m pretty sure Jack wasn’t a Christian, and that’s a tragedy in itself. But I think there’s something we can all take away from this man’s silent lifestyle.

I pray I learn a little from a man I never knew, but only read about. I pray that, I too, one day can effect people simply by the way I live.

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