A Divine Visit Delivered by Dirty Harry-A Vietnam Veteran
That's what he called himself. A maverick and proud of it. He was friendly, even jolly as he whizzed up and down the streets of our neighborhood in his power chair. Everybody knew that Harry had lost both legs in an explosion in the Vietnam War, knew that his wife left him with a young son and that his only income was a government pension. Everyday, with cigarettes and lighter in hand, he parked his chair at the corner of Drew Street and Old Coachman Rd to watch the traffic. He became a landmark for people on their familiar route and it pleased Harry to sit there and wave as the waved back and honked their horns.
Christmas in Florida
It was my first Christmas in Florida. It was warm and beautiful. My neighbors were outside in their shorts and shirt sleeves stringing lights and hanging wreaths. It was so strange to me. Back in Tennessee it would be like putting up decorations in the middle of July. I just could not get into the Christmas spirit. I missed my home, my church and the southern drawl. I shopped at the malls but the holiday music only added to my melancholy.
One day I went into the garage to do some laundry and turned on a small TV to hear the noon news. Chruch bells from the little Greek church around the corner was chiming out over the neighborhood, "Silent Night, Holy Night."
Here comes Harry up my driveway. If ever he saw anybody out, he would stop and say hello. We chatted a few minutes. We talked about the Greek lady next door who spoke broken English, the plumber on the end of the street who painted his house purple, and he turned the wheels of his chair to go home.
The little TV
Harry stopped in the driveway and glanced back over his shoulder, and said,
"Say, you wouldn't want to sell the little TV would you?"
"It only has three channels," I told him. "The horizontal lines pop up once in a while, and it's not worth much."
"Oh, it's not for me," he said. "I was gonna get it for my son's room. I'll give you 10 dollars for it."
"No, no, no, Harry. I never watch the thing," I laughed as I unplugged it and set it on his lap, and said, " Merry Christmas, Harry!"
"Dirty Harry," he corrected.
I watched him round the corner holding the TV with one hand and the electric cord thrown over his shoulder. The church bells were chiming out the last few bars..."Sleep in Heavenly Peace." I had just given Dirty Harry a piece of junk. What he gave me was astounding.
Harry's visit lingered
I turned and found all the boxes up on the shelf that was marked, 'Christmas'. I unwrapped the tissue paper from the hand made ornaments. Each one, a special significance. From my daughter, an angel of lace made in the second grade. And from my son a snow globe. I began to feel a gentle release of emotions, a letting go of the past. I spent the rest of the afternoon decorating with only my thoughts. Harry's visit was lingering. He touched me some way. It was a very special visit.
A woman in Samaria
Then it came to me. A tract I once read about a Samaritan woman.
The word was spread that Jesus would be traveling through her small village and would need a place to rest for the night. Every household prepared for the Divine visitor. This one woman just knew it would be her house for she lived near the path Jesus would be traveling. "I'll watch for Him and run out to meet Him and invite Him in," she thought. So she cooked and cleaned and watched all day.
During the course of the day, a young woman came to her door with a heavy heart and needed to talk. "I don't have time today," she said. "I'm expecting a very important visitor. Please come back another time." A second visitor came to her door. A man dusty and tired traveling the path, stopped to ask for a drink of water. "I'm sorry, I don't have time to go to the well today, I am just too busy." A third visitor was a small boy crying because he had fallen on a rock and bruised his knee. "I'm so sorry," she said. "I would like to help you but I can't do it today, someone else will help you, I'm sure."
She finished her work and waited but no one came. At dusk she went out to look down the long path leading up to the village. No one was in sight. "My labor has been for nothing," she thought. "Someone else received the blessing." Disappointed, she went into her cottage and fell asleep.
Then the Master stood before her. "Three times I came to your door today and ask for care. Three times you sent me away uncomforted." In her shame she cried, "Oh Lord, I didn't know it was you, please forgive me!"
And he said unto her, "The sin is pardoned, but the blessing is lost to thee; for comforting not the least of mine, ye did it not to me. Matthew 25:45.
Flip the switch
It was almost dark and I was placing the last string of lights on the outside shrubs. My husband pulled in driveway from work with a big smile on his face. He shouted from the window,
"Do they work?"
"I don't know," I said." Would you flip the switch by the door when you go in?" He did. All the lights came on! And so did the light in my heart. It was then I realized I had been given the greatest gift of all, The Spirit of Christmas! Delivered to me by Harry in a divine visit.