The Mercy of Grace (with Carrie P.)

ByKevin Kuzma

The Mercy of Grace (with Carrie P.)

On the street with Carrie P.

On the street with Carrie P.

On my walk into work this morning, a woman stopped me near the corner of Grand and 20th Street to ask for money.

“Do you have a dollar for a homeless woman?” she asked.

“I have something better, I told her.

I was carrying a bag of food that my daughter Annie prepared last night for the homeless people who set up camp in the park by my office. I started taking out sandwiches, bags of pretzels and bottled water and handing them to her. I asked her name and she told me it was Carrie P. I noticed right away that she was wearing a cross around her neck.

“Are you a Christian?” I asked.

She replied, “I’m a Christian and I write.”

From there, she recited me a few poems (“With Honor,” which she said was her signature poem, then “Splendor,” and she sang me a song she wrote called “Mercy of Grace.”) I couldn’t make out much of what she said with the noise of the passing city buses, but I remember one line about God being so great that we should all bow before him.

We talked for a few minutes more. Carrie told me she’d just left the hospital with a back problem and a terrible case of food poisoning. She also told me in a year she would be 60 years old. I couldn’t imagine it … nearly 60 with no home and only a few bags of random items she’d collected as her sole possessions.

A year ago, I would have walked right by a woman like this with no trouble. I wouldn’t have known her story, what was in her heart or what kind of beauty she’s tried to bring to this world. But that’s not my way anymore. I’ve had a few encounters with our city’s homeless in the last few months, and they’ve always said “God bless you” as I’ve walked away after giving them food. This time, I told Carrie “God bless you” as we parted ways.

When you say something like that as a new Christian … and truly mean it … you can feel how much Christ has changed your heart.

 

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