Too many times we are quick to judge a matter or a man, and are entirely impatient to wait for the facts before we smite a man with our opinion, and by so doing, we castrate any possibility of seeing value in another human being.
Like single issue voters, we wrongly attribute ‘nothingness’ to a person when we prematurely judge, having no care for the facts or the rest of the story. The good book reminds us to ‘be careful how ye judge,’ yet we are slow as turtles to understand this truth.
There was a man who had a wife and 6 children, and they were the epitome of an American family. Twelve hour days at the mill, butchering on weekends, and staying out of trouble and debt for some odd seventy years.
Peoples memory of this man was myopic, because all his worth was lost (in the minds of most) by the odor of the drink.
Friends ‘children were lifted up’ in his arms, and he loved them dearly as his own, (he had six mind you) and he enjoyed singing, singing, and singing; and he loved watching westerns.
When he had any spare time, he was working around the modest house, ‘lifting up children’ and smiling to them, and yes on occasion smelling a wee bit of the brew. People thought he was always drunk, and news traveled far and wide. Only a few knew otherwise, and it took over fifty years for anybody to set the matter straight.
Long ago, one Saturday morning, this man was backing his jalopy out of the garage, for to run some errands. The little girls were playing in the small yard, but the smallest managed to crawl into the driveway looking for a ball or other toy.
Her sisters lost sight of her for a few seconds, and you guessed it, the gentleman backed out of the garage and heard a thump. Screaming and chaos ensued, and a day later, little Mary came to life’s end. An accident. A pure accident, yet the father could neither forgive himself, and you could understand, he could not forget. There was no word suitable for his despair.
Years passed and his grief and pain would not subside. He took to the brew because he could not face the memory of what he thought was no accident. He diminished his offspring to six children. He knew there were seven! He would sing in another language and people thought he was drunk, but he was crying out to God asking for help to live for he could not face himself. He ‘lifted up his children’ and the neighbor’s children asking God to keep, bless, and protect them. Oh how he loved children. He gave them tears as gifts.
He wanted to have erased from his own mind that solitary Saturday morning when the air was cool, and life was oh so good. As if his own punishment wasn’t enough, there was an added tragedy, for people judged this man for 50 years knowing not that he had at one time seven children.
They knew nothing of Mary, and what happened to her and to her father.
He was thought to be a useless drunk and a babbler. Yet his so-called babbling was his European tongue, and the careless of thought accused him falsely. His wife and he were immigrants, and they learned English, but cherished the opportunity to speak the language wherein they were born. Above that, singing in that tongue was nectar to his heart.
Similar to the apostles when speaking forth the wonders of God, their ‘drunkenness’ was not that at all, and the shallow of thought should hide in the shadows of their own embarrassment.
This man used an occasional brew as a friend because he did not know how to face forgiveness. He thought he could not be forgiven, he thought of himself as an unfit father and human being, and he could not live with the memory that he was responsible for ending the life of his wife’s seventh child. He was crushed.
Many, many years later, and after learning the history of this man, so-called friends had changed opinions; some all of a sudden heard a sweet song, and others did not mind the smell of that brew after all. All saw something strikingly sweet when they remembered ‘the lifting of the children,‘ and many despised themselves for their judgment of a very good man.
Do we not do this on occasion? Perhaps we write off a person or two when they say a word that is offensive, or what WE think is offensive, and do not give them the benefit of the doubt. Maybe we just don’t have all the facts.
Perchance we isolate ourselves from a person who ‘smells funny,’ or sings a tune that is unfamiliar to us. The old fellow lived his entire life punishing himself, yet tolerated the added punishment of others, for he always ministered kindness in return. His memory of little Mary gave him no rest. Yes, his song was foreign, but not to him.
Yes he occasionally smelled of the brew. Was he drunk? Of course not, but the unfounded opinions of others was a bit tipsy. His returning grace for condemnation was remarkable, and his ability to live knowing of the false insults of others was heavenly.