Wednesday, April 22, 2009

Benefits of Serving the Poor

For a while now I've been hanging down in Moore Square on a regular basis, making friends with homeless guys and maintaining these friendships. When people ask me why I do it, I tell them that it's really me who is being blessed and served through my actions. People assume this means that I learn invaluable lessons, I experience love through friendships, and that I receive the Holy Spirit through my service. -Maybe. But yesterday it meant that I got to go to a Carolina Hurricanes playoff hockey game.

I was teaching my last period of the day, and my phone started blowing up. Call, message. 10 minutes later, call, message. After school I had a club meeting, and finally around 3:30 I answered one of these phone calls. It was one of my homeless friends, Reggie. A few weeks ago he got a job and on this day his work had a group of tickets for people to claim. Not really asking he said, "Chris, man, I got 4 tickets to tonight's hockey game. I'm at the Y. Come get me so I can give you the tickets." I was a little reluctant at first, but eventually I agreed to come pick him up and get the tickets. Since I was in a hurry to get to they end of the year banquet for Community Hope, the reading/mentoring program I am involved with, Reggie just handed me the tickets and went on his way. I inspected the tickets for a few minutes, trying to get over the fact that a homeless guy just handed me 4 free tickets to a playoff hockey game, and then I called some friends.

I wound up taking Stephanie (my gf), De'Andre (the boy I mentor), and his younger brother Mike. The kids had a great time and I wish I had brought a camera to take their pictures. It was a very "this is what white people do" kind of evening as De'Andre and Mike were blown away by all that is Carolina hockey. The game itself was one of the best I had ever seen. The Canes went up 3-0 in a game they absolutely had to win. The Devils tied the game 3-3 midway through the 3rd. As the clock ran, I came to the forgone conclusion that if the game went into overtime, I would have to bite my lip and take these two young children home. I leaned over to Stephanie and said, "Somebody just has to score." I wasn't about to keep a first grader out past 11.

Well, right when it looked like regulation was over, a moment of divine nature occurred. With about 5 seconds on the clock, the Devils failed to clear the puck from their zone and it bounced out to the blue line. One of the Canes players got control of the puck as everyone in the stadium was yelling, "Shoot it!!!!!!" Instead, he passed the puck along the blue line as the stadium gasped in frustration that he had passed on what appeared to be their last chance for a shot in regulation. Just then, Seidenberg sent a one timer that redirected off of Jokinen and into the back of the net right as the clock read 0:00! The ref pointed to the net indicating goal, the horn sounded, right on cue mind you, and the stadium absolutely erupted. I turned to Stephanie and shouted, "I've never seen that before!" It was a buzzer beater for the win in a hockey game. No Rick Flair this time on the jumbo tron, just pure playoff electricity. They reviewed the goal as everyone continued to cheer, before one more incredible eruption when the ref finally turned around and pointed down to indicate that the goal stood. The game was over and it was immediately deemed an Instant Classic. It was crazy! They announced Jokinen as the night's number 1 star but mistakenly sent out Seidenberg from the dressing room back onto the ice for the misguided, yet emotional curtain call.

It was an incredible game and an incredible experience. But I like to just chalk it up as the fruits of serving the poor. Thanks Reggie!


Shannon Smith said...

This line made me laugh out loud: It was a very "this is what white people do" kind of evening...


Anonymous said...

Chris - Thanks for your tweet responses & the comment. Yea, its something I've been involved with for a while now, but I haven't been able to get to Uganda yet. My goal is to go in the next 12 months. I graduate college this week, and then Uganda is the next thing on my list. I really want to meet the people I've heard so much about, and hear their stories from them. So much is lost in translation...

How many times have you been? What were your impressions?