y oldest son, Matt, accepted an exciting new job in beautiful southern California, so I got a call to help him move. I also got the opportunity to explore the incredible Pacific Coast for most of a day as I walked around the coast line of the Laguna Beach area.
It was a gorgeous day and impossible to not marvel at God’s beauty and creativity. I couldn’t help but be reminded that in my wildest imagination, I would never have come up with something as amazing as a sea lion or a cormorant (aquatic bird) that can dive 150 feet underwater. God’s imagination and creativity are mind boggling!
After a few hours, I was ready to give my feet a break so I climbed aboard a city bus headed toward a new scenic spot. Sitting a couple rows in front of me was a man about my age who, I gathered, lived on the streets. He was pleasant and carrying on a conversation with the bus driver. I learned his name was Jim. We were making a routine stop when another passenger moved to get off the bus. Just before exiting, he noticed Jim, said hi, and instead of exiting, sat down next to him as the bus pulled away. The conversation then went something like this:
“Hey Jim, what are you doing today?”
“I’m riding the bus.”
There was a short pause, a shrug of the
shoulders and he said,
he conversation continued with a discussion about various places where they had found things to eat or places to sleep. The contrast with my companions in the bus and their daily lives while being surrounded by the amazing wealth and beauty of Laguna Beach was profound. The bus made a new stop and a third man entered who instantly knew Jim and the other man.
“Hi Jim. Good to see you. You doing OK?”
“I’m fine, man. Just hanging out in the bus today.”
“OK, I’ll join you.”
The conversation picked up where it had left off as they exchanged helpful information about places to go and places to avoid. Then their conversation took a sad turn.
“Hey Jim, I’ve got some weed if you want.”
“No, thanks,” Jim answered, “I’m a drunk. I just want to drink.”
Jim’s other friend said he’d take some weed and without hesitation his friend reached into his pocket and handed over a joint.
“I heard your mom was in town,” the guy with the pot said to Jim.
“Yeah,” he answered, “It was my birthday. It was really good to see her. She got me a hotel room so I could clean up and sleep in a bed.
She took me out to eat and told me about my kids.” Jim stopped talking as he was lost in thought.
“Your mom is great,” the other said. “Mine don’t like me much…”
I missed my stop. I was so entranced by their conversation everything else blurred away. I looked at these three men and I couldn’t help but wonder what their stories were. How did they get here? Then I quickly thought of the popular phrase, “There but for the grace of God, go I.”