Comical or thought-provoking, frustrating or inspirational…come along on our journey.
Have you ever had a chance encounter with someone, leaving you with an undefined emotional response that lingers? William Major was our unexpected crossing-of-paths encounter. It wasn’t until 2 weeks later that we learned his somewhat famed nick-name, “Chilly Willy.”
Let me start at the beginning.
The “Dreams With Hope” Sleep Awareness Tour completed a wonderful sleep clinic in Raleigh, NC., making a weekend stop-over in Charlotte, NC. to visit friends and relax. Sunday morning we went with friends to their church, a historic and beautiful stone structure, complete with a massive organ with floor-to-ceiling pipes! The minister’s sermon was about opening our eyes to those in need, both in our own communities and worldwide. She quoted a passage from the Scriptures dealing with the worth of a life…how we as humans tend to place a higher value based on appearances; nice clothes vs shabby, clean vs dirty. We’ve all done it. We try not to be that shallow in our thinking; swimming upstream against generations of cultural influences.
The pipe organ’s melodious chimes sounded while leaving the vaulted sanctuary, waiting in line to speak with the minister. We were anticipating a day of bright sunshine and sharing a delicious meal with friends, when we noticed ahead of us a raggedy-looking man shaking her hand in a jovial way. He seemed to be waiting for us. ”Hi there”, he said. ”My name is William Major.” He then went on to explain that he had been homeless for 20 years. ”But no more…see my key? I’ve got my own apartment now and I keep this key around my neck, to keep it safe. I go to AA meetings every week and I’m doing better.” This was said with a giant smile…warming our hearts as we recalled the words of the morning’s sermon. William asked for a ride home, but since our car was full with people, we all gave him some money for a cab fare. ”Oh that’s ok, the Lord just blessed me for putting my last quarter in the offering plate, thank you,” he said. Next, seeing a young man nearby with a camera he motioned him over, saying, “Take our picture…take our picture, these are some nice people!”
That was it. Bob and I talked about William for days after, pondering the thoughts of “how DO we measure the value of a person’s life? Should it be based on accomplishments, wealth, fame, personality or purpose…or maybe none of these?
Thinking outside of the box, I can’t help but wonder. What if…..what if some lives are lived simply for the purpose of providing others the opportunity to help, to give, to think unselfishly? With this thought I am reminded of the words found in the Scripture, Mark 14:7. ”For you have the poor with you always, and whenever you will, you may do them good…” I am convinced this is a responsibility we all share.
Last week we received an email from our friends in Charlotte. They thought we’d want to know about William Major, sending a link to the Charlotte Observer article about William…better known as “Chilly Willy”. The reporter told about his life, his struggles living on the street, his alcoholism…and his death. William was hit by a car in a street where he walked everyday, where he was known for entertaining passerby’s with guitar music and song.
This brings into perspective that life is fragile, life is short; motivating us to help those that God brings across our path. Chilly Willy touched our hearts that Sunday morning.
I hope he knows that.