Sideglances
by SARAH GREENE
Nov 21, 2013 | 736 views | 0 0 comments | 16 16 recommendations | email to a friend | print
THE TITLE of a hit song in the 1960s was Don’t Get Around Much Any More. That has become my personal theme song in the new century.

I have flippantly commented that if I didn’t have junk mail I wouldn’t have any mail at all. But I have to admit that is not entirely true.

One recent day, I got unsolicited mail that included some worthwhile pieces. The National Wildlife Federation sent a packet that included attractive Christmas gift wrapping paper and the usual return mail printouts, with my name and address enhanced by snowmen or Christmas wreaths.

A real tear jerker came from the Covenant House in Merrifield, Va., where homeless kids are given food, shelter and something to make Christmas more than just another day.

HERE, IN PART, is how Covenant House President Kevin Ryan told Jeremiah’s story:

One Christmas Eve, staff and residents had gathered for a special service when a shadow appeared outside the window and lingered. Ryan went outside to see who was there, He found a boy, 16 or 17, who looked exhausted. Ryan offered a handshake and asked his name.

Jeremiah was invited inside, but he hesitated, saying “Nah, I’m alright. I’m fine here.”

“Well, you don’t look alright. You look tired. Come inside—we have some hot chocolate and Christmas cookies,” Ryan offered.

“How much you charge?” Jeremiah asked, his face filled with skepticism.

“I only have $26 on me and I need it. I have to find a place to stay and something to eat, and I need my money.”

“We don’t charge anything, Jeremiah, Come inside Covenant House with me, okay?” Ryan turned to walk inside, trusting he’d follow, and he did, but slowly.

As they entered they could hear the chorus singing the refrain of Silent Night. This stopped Jeremiah in his tracks.

“My momma used to sing that song on Christmas.”

“Where is your mom, Jeremiah?” Ryan asked.

He took out his wallet and unfolded a faded, creased Polaroid of a young woman with two small children and a mall Santa in front of a cardboard chimney.

[Following paragraphs told how Jeremiah’s mother had died of breast cancer six years earlier and his little brother Ty went into foster care and had been lost track of. Jeremiah had stopped listening to Ryan.]

“I got nobody mister. It’s Christmas and I got nobody.” His eyes had filled and the tears were starting to spill down his cheeks.

Ryan asked Jeremiah if he wanted something to eat or whether he needed to rest, but he was intent on the circle and its music.

Then Father Placid, chaplain for more than 20 years, invited them into the circle.

Jeremiah took Ryan’s hand and for the first time made eye contact. “I have nowhere to be right now,” he said.”Nowhere. I don’t belong in the world,”

“Yes, you do, Jeremiah. Right here,”’ Ryan replied. “Peace, son.”

“Peace,” he whispered.

[After the services the two talked, ate cookies, apples and turkey sandwiches. Jeremiah started to relax a bit. Then Ryan got a call from the Covenant House New Jersey shelter, saying that someone had stolen all the kids’ Christmas presents.

It took a moment for Ryan to calm down, then he told Jeremiah about the situation and he left for the Covenant House in New Jersey .]

“Here,” Jeremiah said. “Take this.”

He had opened his wallet and taken out the $26, handing it to Ryan.

“They need it more than I do.”

. . .. “At that moment I [Ryan] was undone by the generosity of this sweet, broke kid who emptied his pockets to bring Christmas to other homeless kids he’d never met.”

ROBERT REDFORD was the name that showed up prominently on a letter-sized piece of mail that you had to open to find the source of.

Stop the Pebble Mine! was the headline on a letter on behalf of the Natural Resources Defense Council. It seems that a mine is planned that would threaten Bristol Bay, its wildlife and people.

Where is Bristol Bay? I don’t know, and the mailer doesn’t tell me.

But it does include an attractive Certificate of Appreciation for Ms. Sarah Greene, suitable for framing.

Such confidence in my generosity is not warranted, I have to admit.

But I do feel better informed for knowing about this huge, no doubt questionable, project.

The Wounded Warrior Project, which I have probably written about before, simply won’t give up on me, though I have expressed my opinion that the governments that sent these warriors into harm’s way are responsible for them.
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