This is an old photo of my daughter, Mary Addison, and her friend Joseph. I love this photo for many reasons – mostly because our dear friend, Joseph, always saw angels and now he is with the angels. But this story is about an encounter Mary Addison had with a young homeless man and the blessing of never being in a hurry. For those of us who are often frustrated by how our loved one slows us down, I hope you enjoy!

Each Advent, our family prepares for the birth of Christ by re-committing to focus on the purpose and meaning of Christmas, to not let the consumerism and frenzy of the season sweep us up.  This year, a major theme was “busyness.”  We re-emphasized the importance of slowing down, being present in the moment, taking the time to understand and meet the needs of others.  We all talk a good game, but few of us “get it” as well as our 16-year-old, mentally and physically challenged daughter, Mary.  She is never “busy.”  She is slow and deliberate in all she does.  It is so often a source of great frustration for those of us who are always trying to make her hurry – hurry to school, hurry to church, hurry to the doctor…  She will not be hurried.

The other night, we hurried to the local drugstore to pick up some items before heading to yet another holiday event.  As we were hurrying across the parking lot, Mary, saw a young homeless man holding out a plastic pumpkin asking for donations.  She headed over to him.

“No, Mary, please don’t go over there.  We are in a hurry!” I said.

Undeterred, she enthusiastically approached the man, extending her hand and said, “Merry Christmas!” and shook his hand.

He replied, “Merry Christmas to you, darling.”

She said, “My name is Mary Tutterow.  T-U-T-T-E-R-O-W.”  She always spells out her name, especially when I am in a hurry.

“My name is John.  J-O-H-N.”

I’m losing it about now.  “OK, OK.  That’s nice, but we are in a hurry.  Come on, Mary.”

As if I didn’t exist, she said, “Give me a hug, John.”  With that, he rose to his feet and gave her a big hug.  Tears were streaming down his face.  “Thank you, Mary Tutterow.  Thank you so much.”  Turning to me for permission he said, “Please, I want her to have this,” and he handed her his pumpkin.

With great excitement, as if she had been handed the most wonderful present in the world, she rattled the pumpkin and squealed, “OH, for me?”

“Yes, baby, for you.”

“Oh, thank you, John.  I love you.”

“I love you, too, Mary.”

Lord, make me more like Mary – that I may slow down enough to see those hurting and lonely around me and take the time to serve them with compassion and love – as You would.  AMEN.