Friday, November 5, 2010


There are some experiences, some sights, some moments in life that are hard to forget. I had one of those this past summer at the Farmer's Market.
It was our first trip to the market and actually the only one of the summer. JC and I wandered through the rows of vendors and the crowds of people. It was a hot morning with the potential for rain. We made our way through the maze of produce stands, down the first row, rounding the corner and halfway up the second row. That's when I saw him. He was sitting on a short, wooden stool, among all the vendors, no canopy overhead for shelter or shade.
I'm not sure how many people really saw him. He was the sort of person we're tempted to look away from. He was the sort of man we tend to make assumptions about. He was the sort of person we want not to see but can't forget after a single glance. He was tall and thin. His skin was an unhealthy pale and he had long, white hair, falling past his shoulders. His face was gaunt and his eyes were intense. Carefully arranged on the ground in front of him, were various toys. A child's rake, the Fisher Price Chatty Phone and a few other items. I saw him but was careful not to make eye contact. I made assumptions, determining in my mind, what sort of man he must be. We didn't stop to talk to him or see what he had to offer. We kept walking.
Just as he had faded from the corner of my eye, not even a full booth away, I heard the music start and knew it was coming from him. With his toys, he created music and with his raspy, scarred voice, he sang. He sang a song I'd known for a long time, I song I didn't expect to hear. These are the words he sang:
          "All creatures of our God and King,
            lift up your voices, let us sing:
            Alleluia, alleluia!
            Thou burning sun with golden beams,
            thou silver moon that gently gleams,
            O praise him, O praise him,
            Alleluia, alleluia, alleluia!

            Thou rushing wind that art so strong,
             ye clouds that sail in heaven along,
             O praise him, Alleluia!
             Thou rising morn, in praise rejoice,
             ye lights of evening, find a voice, 
             O praise him, O praise him,
             Alleluia, alleluia, alleluia!"

As we walked on, the words followed me through the market, even when I could no longer hear the voice singing them. The image of the singer was etched in my mind. I saw him sitting there, alone, in a crowd but isolated. Isolated by people like me. I thought I saw a man who had lived a hard life and perhaps made choices that had been unkind to him. Maybe that was true, maybe he was what I thought, but he was also more than that. What I didn't see was a man in the presence of the King, one willing to lift up his voice and sing praises to his Creator in a crowd where no one acknowledged him, let alone joined him. What I failed most to see was a man created by God himself, the same God who  not only created me but gave everything for me.
The next morning at church, the first song we sang was "All Creatures of Our God and King." It had been a long time since we'd sung that hymn and we haven't sung it since. The significance wasn't wasted on me. It was a reminder for me. "Do we not all have one father? Has not one God created us?" Malachi 2:10. Several months later, I still think of it, the song, the man.
           "Let all things their Creator bless,
            and worship him in humbleness,
            O praise him, Alleluia!
            Praise, praise the Father, praise the Son,
            and praise the Spirit, Three in One:
            O praise him, O praise him,
            Alleluia, alleluia, alleluia!"

When I think of the man at the Farmer's Market and the whole experience. I'm reminded of a newer song, one by Brandon Heath.
           "Give me your eyes for just one second
             Give me your eyes so I can see
             Everything that I keep missing
             Give me your love for humanity
             Give me your arms for the broken hearted
             Ones that are far beyond my reach.
             Give me your heart for the ones forgotten
             Give me your eyes so I can see."

God, help me to see people the way you do, as your valued creation! God, forgive me when I fail. Forgive me for passing by without seeing. Lord, give me your eyes so I can see.

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