Just about every morning Dave and I get up, get dressed and head on over to our favorite little coffee hang out. We walk into the store and Dave immediately heads right over to the doughnut/pastry counter and makes his selection for the day. Without fail he asks me every time if I'd like a doughnut and without fail I say, “No thanks”. I proceed to the counter and tell the cashier that we are having one doughnut, one paper, one tall drip and one Refresh green tea. Dave, in his own time, makes it to the counter and pays for all of our treats for the morning. It is then my job to snag what we think to be the perfect table with the cushy bench seat. Once pleasantly seated, we talk, read and occasionally chat with the other locals in the coffee area.
Usually right after we get all situated a gentleman in his late 70's (or early 80's) walks in, grabs his paper, throws it onto the table, walks over to the counter and pays for the drink that is awaiting him. It is consistently prepared and ready to go for him at the counter by the time he has walked in and gathered his non-paid for paper. He pays for his drip sits down and reads his paper. When he is finished with his paper he neatly folds it up and puts it back over on the top of the papers on the rack, throws his cup in the garbage and bids everyone a good day.
One day I asked the gentleman working at the counter if he ever pays for that paper? He responded by telling me that he indeed does not pay for it and proceeded to tell us that he is on a tightly fixed income. He continued to tell us that the walk to the coffee shop for his cup of coffee and a paper is his big event for the day.
Today as Dave and I were waiting to get our drinks, we asked the gentleman at the counter where the “Free Reader” was, as we haven't seen him in a while. He looked at us with sadness and told us that he passed away February 7th. We all kind of just stood there in shock. This feeling of sadness kind of fell all over the three of us as we stood there and talked about a man none of us really knew and how we were going to miss observing him.
I am not sure why we never spoke to the “Free Reader” or why we never tried to strike up a conversation with him. We were always so amused that he would sit at the same table and read a paper without even paying for it. We would even sometimes in a whisper give the play-by-play of what he'd do for example: Giggling to ourselves, “here he comes. He walks over to the paper stand and grabs his paper, as he looks it over wandering if it was worth his time today. Hand scratching his chin, with a little grunt, he decides that today’s edition is worthy of his eye. So he takes the paper and throws it onto the table with such importance, immediately walks over and has chit chat with the guy who awaits for him at the counter handing him his drink. He pays for his short drip, cracks a joke with the guy behind the counter and heads over to his table, places his drink down after a short sip; he opens his free paper and begins reading it from cover to cover. Yes, the “Free Reader” has entered the building, yet once again,” followed by more giggles.
But now he is gone, even though I did not know him nor did I talk to him, even once, I will miss him. My mind is now full of questions about this man that I never took the time to get to know or worse yet our paths crossed many times and I failed at my job and never once shared the story of the one who has changed my life. Do I really believe in what I say I believe? I can not help but think on the words of Tozer:
“At the heart of the Christian message is God Himself waiting for His redeemed children to push into conscious awareness of His presence.
That type of Christianity which happens now to be in vogue knows this Presence only in theory. It fails to stress the Christians privilege of present realization.
According to its teachings we are in the presence of God positionally, and nothing is said about the need to experience the Presence actually."
Am I living as though His presence is only a theory? Why do Christians say nothing about “the need to experience the Presence actually” ~ do we, 'the believers', not really believe?
A pulling on my heart and then a thought that plagues me, did I miss an opportunity to share His message of love and forgiveness along with the message of eternity? If I'd of known this mans date of departure from this earth was February 7th, would I have spoken up? Made sure? Shared? Giggled?
So for what it's worth, "free reader," we sure do miss you and we are deeply sorry that we didn't reach out and get to know you.
With out you, ever even knowing, you have taught me/us a valuable lesson and we all miss you, dearly.