One ice pack, Aspirin, and chocolate milk

One ice pack, Aspirin, and chocolate milk

I met Carole in front of a nightclub on Broadway. An elderly woman in a walker/wheelchair with a hugely swollen black eye. “I was punched in the face by a man on the bus. The driver didn’t do anything.” She noticed the priest collar my outreach partner was wearing and asked, “Are you Catholic, Lutheran, or Presbyterian?” Whenever someone asks about faith matters, I assume faith matters.

”Can I pray for you?” I ask as I kneel down with my bad back, arthritic knee, and seemingly endless supply of socks, water, and granola bars. “Yes, please,” Carole says with all the faith and expectation of a long-suffering disciple of Christ. The sweetest part of praying for a homeless woman in her sixties with a black eye, is when she prays for me. “Thank you, Lord, for sending Michael, for your comfort and provision. Bless him and care for him.” Our time ends as I give her an ice pack and an Aspirin. “Hey!” she yells as I am walking away, “Michael means he who is like God!” I yell back, “Try telling that to my wife!”

I see Carole two days later. With open hands, she folds mine in to hers, closes her eyes and seems to pray silently. We make small talk about the weather and how much her eye must hurt. “Do you have any chocolate milk?” she asks with all the hope and charm of a child. “If I find some, I will be back,” I say. Rite Aid up the street has a glorious selection of Darigold beverages for $1.89, one of them being chocolate milk. I return with the holy nectar and Carole is elated. “It feels so good in my tummy!”

“If a brother or sister is poorly clothed and lacking in daily food, and one of you says to them, “Go in peace, be warmed and filled,” without giving them the things needed for the body, what good is that? So also faith by itself, if it does not have works, is dead” (James 2:15-17, ESV).

Michael Cox

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