“Living Christian” by Angie Cejka

Living Christian

          When I was growing up in the forest of Michigan, my parents taught me two very valuable lessons: always be as independent and self-sufficient as possible, and when you have more than you need you should build a longer table, not a higher fence. They built our family on hard work and generosity – and even though they never took us to church, they taught us to live a Christian life. They lived it, too – my parents worked five jobs between the two of them. Our whole neighborhood was poor, and we often traded and bartered things instead of buying them For instance, we once traded taxidermy services in exchange for our neighbor’s help moving a woodstove into our basement. We rarely bought meat, choosing instead to farm, hunt, and fish; we grew a large garden and canned as much as we could. We shared our harvests with our neighbors, knowing that when we were in need, they would help us as we had helped them. I’ve always carried that message with me.   

          A little over one month ago, a gentleman came into the office here at St. Paul’s. He was a tall, thin veteran and while I could tell he was weary, I immediately sensed a level of peaceful dignity and solitude within him. He had come to us with a simple request: let him stay in the parking lot, in his van, while he got back on his feet and navigated the legal system for the next 45 days. His name is Daniel Laine, and he has been attending St. Paul’s for two years. I shook his hand and invited him to tell his story.
          Daniel, or Dal as he likes to be called, is an incredibly strong person. He has experienced so much in his 60+ years that he prefers to eschew the dramas that come with living rough. Every day, he comes into the office to fill up his water bottles and chat with the staff. Dal is a gentle, kind soul and always willing to lend a hand – on Tuesday, he helped a woman in the parking lot when her car battery was dead. He always offers his help when he sees us in need, and we are so thankful for him. 
          St. Paul’s will always be a home to those who need it. When we have the opportunity to help, our church builds that nice, long table and we invite those in need to sit and share our bounty.   
 
Angie Cejka
Office and Facilities Coordinator
Helena United Methodist Ministries