The Man in The Puffy Red Coat

When a man falls back and ceases to breathe in your hands, when his eyes roll into the back of his head, and when his wrists no longer pulse—you hope and pray with all your might and strength that if there is a G-d, He will save this man.

I remember hearing a man come out of the restaurant Jaja Bistro on 5641 Nevada in downtown Littleton and say “Thank G-d you were there for him.” and saying “Yes, there is a G-d.”

It may have been in my head where I said it, or it may have been in my heart, but as my stomach spasmed in the cold and I recalled the thinly-strung line of events that led Sophie and I to that place at that time, I knew that God was real and that His presence was in all of it.

When the man who called himself Joe was rolled onto the stretcher, a small object scattered across the ground in front of my feet. I bent down and saw that it was a button—a button from his shirt.

I picked up the pearly plastic button and pressed it between my fingertips. It still had the white thread in it. I placed it deep within my back right pocket knowing it was a symbol fo the living, breathing G-d and His desire to live in the hearts of all of us.

This man Joe and his pearly white button stood out to me as a living testimony of all those in need who I’ve walked by in my life and completely ignored. He and his pearly-white button are the sick and the poor, the imprisoned and the meek, the homeless and the naked. I’ve walked past them one thousand times.

I’ve walked past them without even looking into their eyes. I’ve walked past them pretending not to hear their cry. I’ve walked past them and smiled, knowing I’m clothed and healthy and strong and that I’m going home to a better place than they’ve ever known. I’ve smiled because I’ve never been in their shoes—torn, wet and two sizes small—freezing beneath the sleet and rain.

But last night, seeing that man in a puffy red coat stumble and fall into a seated position—his feet sprawled out like a toddler on the floor—this image, this scene reminded me that this could be any of us at any point of our lives.

For those like me who walk past people like these, if you ever stop to wonder “Is that person okay?” let that thought be and let your heart listen. For the spirit speaks to the heart, not only the mind, and if you’re ever lost, broken and about to die, you’d hope those who see you will let those thoughts linger in their heart and mind and do what is hard and do what is right.

It’s not always easy to hold a man when he passes into death from life and its not always easy to love in the darkness as well as the light. But at the end of our stories, at the end of our lives, Jesus may tell us:

“You fed me when I was hungry. You nursed me when I was ill. You visited me when I was in prison. You clothed me when I was naked.”

And when we answer him, “How so?” and he replies, “as you do unto the least of these, so you do unto me” we will know that the stumbling man in a puffy red coat was Jesus of Nazareth, King of Kings, crying out in need.


This was a journal entry from February 23rd 2014 as a part of my commitment to write 1,000 words a day for five years. If you enjoyed this post and want to read more of my entries, please let me know!