Glenn opened this morning’s radio program with an emotional monologue focused on the silence of the snow and the opportunity it provides to reflect on what is really important. As he drove past the festive Christmas decorations lining New York’s Fifth Avenue this morning, Glenn had a chance to observe both the good and bad this time of year has to offer. Furthermore, Glenn shared some troubling news about the condition of his good friend Pastor Ken Hutcherson that he received last night, and he asked the audience to pray for Hutch’s family and one another.
The snow is falling in New York City. There’s nothing more beautiful than the snow. There is nothing more peaceful than snow. I don’t know. It does something to us. It does something to the rush when you can walk down the streets of one of the largest cities in the world and it’s quiet. It’s the same whether you’re in the normally quiet woods or the mountains and it begins to snow. There’s a hush that falls even in the forest, and it gives you time to reflect.
Today as I drove by Central Park, I looked for the man who normally I see on the park bench, the same location every day, with his boxes and his bags and his shopping cart, a man who I drive by every day and I watch him at the stoplight, a man who most people would walk by and think is insane because he talks to himself, sometimes quietly, sometimes loudly.
For a long time I thought he was mentally unstable, and indeed maybe he is, but not when he talks to himself. When he talks to himself, he’s not crazy. He’s lonely. I know this to be true because I watch him every day, just for a few minutes, as he sits right by a stoplight. And every day I turn my head and I wonder who he is, I wonder where he came from, in the rain, in the heat, always wearing the same clothes. I wonder how he got there.
One day as I watched him having a conversation with himself, he looked up and he saw me. He stopped, he looked me in the eye and I looked him in the eye, man to man, human to human, soul to soul, brother to brother, and he looked down. In the moment he looked down, I knew he was not crazy. He felt caught looking crazy. He looked back up at me. I just nodded my head. He quietly looked away, and the light changed.
As I drove away, I drove down Fifth Avenue, and already the hustle and bustle of the street, people going to their job, people not looking at each other, people not noticing each other, no one saying “good morning,” no one saying “hello,” no one saying “how are you” and meaning it, and I began to wonder how did everyone get here. What is everyone’s story? Those people who are angry and disgruntled, how did they become that way? Those who are lost, how did they become that way? How many are successful recognize that it wasn’t just them?
I saw a man with a briefcase who was wearing an expensive suit, expensive shoes, a nice watch, waiting to cross the street. He changed his mind and decided to cross the street in front of my car. And I looked at this successful man and I thought: How did you end up there and another man end up at the side of the park talking to himself? How close is the line? And are you any happier than he is? What is it that you do that maybe at times you would look up because you would see someone watching you?
I realized how much we all are alike. I realized how much we have in common. I realized fear is what keeps us apart. Love is what brings us together. There is no peace on Earth, I said. This morning as I drove in, I looked for the man in the park. He wasn’t there today. It was just a bench on the side of the road covered with fresh snow.
Last night I got into bed at 5 o’clock because, I don’t know, maybe I was pretending to be my grandfather and go to bed before the sun goes down. I got into bed at 5 o’clock and I hadn’t more than a couple of hours sleep the night before and so I wanted to try to catch up on my sleep as I have a very busy week this week, and I’m taking my daughter out for a father/daughter date tonight. I hope to have more than a couple of minutes to talk to my wife, more than a couple of minutes just to talk to my son about hippopotamuses, as we did in the hallway last night.
And my phone rang about 7 o’clock. I hadn’t slept well. I kept waking up, things and people weighing on my mind. And it was a friend of mine, Mark, who is a guy who joined my company more as Joe Black than anything else, a guy who wandered the hallways of my company for about a year and a half because I asked him to, because I saw such great talent in him and nobody really understood him and nobody understood what he was supposed to do, and he found himself alone most of the time until the last eight months, when finally fear in him and fear in others subsided and people were able to see each other for who they were. He’s the man I asked to go spend time with Ken Hutcherson. He was on the other end of the phone when I picked it up and he said, “Glenn, it’s Mark. Ken’s dying.” A man I know, that I knew, before either of us was born, won’t make it until Christmas. I called Ken last night. He couldn’t really speak. His wife held the phone up to his ear. I’m praying that the Lord will give him just enough time so I will be able to visit him on Friday. He’s on the other side of the country.
And as I drove down Fifth Avenue today and I saw the snow fall and the people rushing to work and all of the stores filled now strangely not even with Santa but with Christmas ornaments and packages and silver and gold and not even red and green really anymore, and white, and it was snow and there were polar bears in the store windows, and I don’t even know, Saks Fifth Avenue had the abominable snowman, I think. I don’t even know what it was. It was something Christmassy, I guess. And by this afternoon the streets will be packed with people who don’t look at each other and don’t talk to each other. And they’ll rush into the stores and they’ll buy a bunch of crap and their kids will open it gleefully and the boxes will be thrown away and the wrapping will be thrown away or thrown into the fireplace and the kids will play with the crap until it breaks. And then they will say, “What’s next.”
Snow is great because it’s quiet enough to allow your thoughts to be heard, and my thought this morning was: What is the meaning of all of the crap, except it distracts us from the things that we should be doing. We should be looking another man in the eye and letting him know we see him. We know he’s real. We know he exists, and it’s okay. We should be listening and learning from the people who are crossing our paths every day, that really have something to teach, and we should be grateful for the things that we have that didn’t come from a store. The things that are worthwhile you can’t buy, you can’t build.
I know I sound a little, I don’t know, melancholy might be a little light to describe my mood today, but it’s really not. It’s gratitude. It’s gratitude for the people that are in my life, that make my life wonderful. It’s gratitude for the people in my life that stress me out but stress me out and make me better. It’s gratitude for the opportunity to meet so many unbelievable people and become a better man because they crossed my path.
I would ask that you would pray not for Hutch. I don’t think he needs it. He’s ready and he’s good. I told his wife last night, I think the Lord’s kept him down around here for a while because he doesn’t want Hutch underfoot up there. Honestly I think the Lord’s like, “Jeez, I don’t know what I’m going to do with Hutch around here. He’s going to drive me out of my mind. He’s always going to want to be doing stuff.” But pray for his children. Pray for his wife who’s going to have to find a job and start a whole new life, take care of the kids. And pray for us that we see the need in others.
The need is great, but we are greater.
Front page image courtesy of the AP