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Finding grace in unexpected places

By Darcy L. Fargo

Darcy Fargo

August 1, 2018

“Above all, let your love for one another be intense, because love covers a multitude of sins.”
- 1Peter 4:8

It was at the busiest part of the morning for the volunteers at St. Vincent de Paul’s food distribution on a cold spring day. We were trying to get an adequate number of bags of food prepared to keep the line moving once we started distributing.

When I looked up, she stood out from the crowd. Her red sweater caught my attention. It was a pop of color on an otherwise gray, cold and dreary spring day.

She was cold. Her shoulders were hunched forward. Her arms were crossed around her midsection, and her hands were rubbing the her elbows and forearms.

I hate being cold. It's almost a painful experience for me. She looked like she was experiencing that level of discomfort; she was experiencing painful cold.

The line was not yet moving. She was going to be there a fairly long time.

I walked away from my table. When I reached where she was standing, I was already unzipping the jacket and taking it off.

“I think you need this more than I do. I'm moving enough back there that I'm warm. Please, take it,” I said.
“I can't do that. You'll be cold. Thank you, though,” the lady in the red sweater said, smiling kindly.
“I'm fine. I'm almost sweating,” I said.

“Are you sure? I'd give it back,” she replied.

I helped her put the jacket on. “Wear it as long as you need.”

I went back to my work station and returned to filling bags of food. The line started moving. We started early because of the size of the crowd and the cold. I caught her out of the corner of my eye. She was walking toward me. I stopped what I was doing. She had something in her hand.

“I give these to people who I believe are angels on earth,” she said, handing me a lace angel affixed to a red ribbon. “This jacket is a Godsend. You are my angel.”

She told me I was an angel, but she was my angel. At the time, I was in a rut. I was dwelling on my failings and weaknesses. She reminded me that while I'm deeply flawed and struggling, there are things about me that are good and lovable. She showed me a kindness exactly when I needed one. She was the face of God to me; the face of God in a red sweater.

Incredible graces can come from acts of gratitude and kindness, and we all have the ability to reflect God’s love to others. May God help us make the best of that ability.

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