Fridays Weekend Column
"Thanks for Evangelizing Me"
by James Glaser
I just now got back from a trip down to the Saint Cloud VA Medical Center and wanted to write about it while it was still fresh in my mind. The line about "evangelizing" will be explained at the end.
I went to the VA by way of the Twin Cities, as I had to take a friend who was visiting from Tallahassee, so she could catch a flight home. We had a great week and I tried to show her a little bit of the Northland. We sat on the rocks, next to the raging rapids in Big Falls. Rapids that were so fast and powerful they scared us both. We drove upstream, where the water was calmer and we ate a lunch while sitting on a rock that was close to the bank, but still had water all around it. We took a pontoon boat ride on the lake looking for eagle nests, never finding one, but we did see an eagle. She got to hear the loons at night and she did see many deer
But back to my story of today. I left my appointment card at home. so I got to the VA early because I couldn't remember what time I was supposed to be there and wouldn't you know it, I didn't have to be there until 3 in the afternoon. It was 8:30 am when I found that out, so I decided to take a walk. Saint Cloud VA has beautiful grounds and a parking lot that looks to be a half mile long.
Well, when you are at any VA you start thinking about stuff from when you were in the service and here I was walking down the parking lot, thinking of marching on the "Grinder" in Boot Camp. The Grinder was a huge black topped parking lot at the San Diego Marine Recruit Depot that was used for marching. It was so big that a dozen Platoons could be out there at one time with Drill Instructors yelling out commands and screaming at the foul ups of recruits. By the time you leave there, your platoon can march like a unit that has practiced together for years.
So here I am walking down this long parking lot and maybe I fell into marching, when a man sitting on a bench under a tree, said, "Hello there Marine." I didn't even think right then how he knew I had been in the Marine Corps, but I stopped and said Hi. He asked if I had some time to talk and I told him about my appointment and how I had hours.
He asked if I had time to talk about God. Right away I was thinking that I had bumped into a Bible Thumper and some of them drive me nuts, but to be polite, I asked what he meant. He said he would like me to read something out of the Bible to him and he produced a Bible. When I first looked over at him, I knew he was a WW II vet and I bet he was in his eighties. He didn't have an old voice though and he almost sounded Scottish. His voice made me think that maybe he was younger, maybe a Korean War Vet. He was sitting down, but he looked to be in good shape and his eyes were filled with life. I stood there and thought a minute and said, sure I would read to him, thinking that maybe he couldn't read or maybe his eyesight was failing him.
I asked where he wanted me to start and he said that I looked to be a Matthew type man and I should start there. I was thinking that would be good and he was right it was my favorite and being the start of the New Testament made it a logical choice. I started reading, and like always, was having a hard time with the names at the start where Jesus' linage is given. I think you will remember it, it is the part where Abraham begat Isaac and Isaac begat Jacob all the way until another Jacob begat Joseph, the husband of Mary.
After that I was reading real well as I have read this many times and like me, he had a King James Version of the Bible, so the "thou prayest," "thinkest thou," and the "Verily's" were no problem.
Sometimes when you are reading out loud, something that is very familiar, you drop a word here and there, because your mind knows it is there. Every time that would happen this man would add it in and soon I knew he had the whole book memorized. I looked at him questioningly and he said, "go on lad, it is music to my ears." So I kept right on reading.
I was at chapter 20, reading about "Ye shall drink indeed of my cup, and be baptized with the baptism that I am baptized with," when I heard this woman whimpering behind me and I came to learn that she was his daughter Magee, short for Magdalene. She walked up and apologized for interrupting me, but had to ask how I ever got he father to listen to the Bible and that she had been praying that he would. He spoke up then and asked her to go and buy us some coffee so that I could finish and she fell all over her self saying she would and was off to the Canteen.
I right away asked him why he never let her know that he knew the Bible. He said the she needed to learn how to pray. She thought she was a Christian, but she didn't know how to pray, so he let her pray for him.
She came back and we drank our coffee and he then asked her it go get the car. I had guessed by this time that he had an early appointment and she had dropped him off and came to pick him up, when she saw me reading to him. When she returned, she had a pair of crutches and that was the first time I noticed that he only had one leg.
Magdalene thanked me and asked me for my favorite Bible verse and I said Matthew 25:40, which isn't true and for the life of me, I have no idea of where that came from. I am not good and whipping out Bible verses, but know my favorite one is about Prayer, where Jesus tells us to go to our room and pray to the Father and that we don't even have to say the words, because God knows what we want before we even say them. So, for me to come out with number and verse is really out of character and that verse? "And the King shall answer and say unto them, Verily I say unto you, Inasmuch as ye have done it unto the least of these my brethren, ye have done it unto me."
I have not a clue of where that came from, but then I had just read it, so maybe it stuck in my mind. I had to ask him, how he knew that I had been a Marine? He said he could hear the "O ada low, ada low ire low," as I was walking up. In the Army, when they march, they might say "to your left, to your left, to your left right left," to keep everyone marching in step. In the Marines, the Drill Instructor would sing. And mine sang, "O ada low, ada low ire low," with the left foot touching the ground on each "low".
Now I know I might have been thinking that when I was walking down that driveway at the VA, but I just know I wasn't singing it out loud. I some times do when I am walking at home, but even there I sing it very quietly, because it sounds so weird... unless you were a Marine. So, I don't know how he knew.
As he was walking away, he made a perfect pivot on his crutches and said. "Thanks for Evangelizing Me." As he turned to walk away, I said, "Semper Fi" and he smiled.
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