Homeless Harold was a great teacher to us all, exemplifying the kind of love the Lord desires to cultivate in each of His own. You could see the forty-something year old man all around the downtown area of our city, peering into and digging through the trash containers on the corners of the streets. When eye contact was made with Harold he would always smile with a big charming grin, and it didn't matter who you were. He treated everyone with kindness.
The first time I saw Homeless Harold he was running to catch an elderly woman. It was a simple yet grand display of God's love. His shoes made flopping sounds from the soles that were torn back from the toes half way down. With each step the loose sole would slap the ground, then his foot as he ran. The clothes he wore were ragged and faded, but clean. Catching up to the woman, he extended to her the package she had forgotten and left on the sidewalk when buttoning her coat. His face was radiant with joy for having a good deed to perform.
Many people felt pity for the poor man and would offer money for food or clothing. He always refused, saying merely, "God provides for all my needs." There was much speculation as to where Harold slept and how he lived with no apparent income. One thing is certain. He was the happiest and most satisfied person I have ever met.
Trying to have a conversation with our tender hearted hero was many times frustrating. When asked about himself he would always steer the talk towards Jesus. Harold knew the bible well and could apply its spiritual principles in remarkable analogies and stories. I think he would have made a good writer. Who knows, maybe he was at one time.
One day a policeman wanted to arrest Harold for vagrancy. Three people came to his defense, pleading with the officer to leave the harmless fellow alone. I was one of them. The cop was angry. He must have been having a really bad day, but Harold knew exactly what to do. He bowed his head and began to pray aloud for the policeman. The words that flowed were like that of an angel, compassionate, tender and saturated with real love.
After he prayed, Harold looked sadly at the officer and said, "I'll go to jail...its okay; I just want you to be alright." The law man looked as if he couldn't get back to his car fast enough. His eyes were welling up with tears as he drove away without Harold.
People who knew Homeless Harold, myself included, have tried to investigate what ever happened to that wonderful man of God. The day came when he was suddenly gone and no one knows where. One intriguing story is that God just reached down and took him home like He did Enoch. Wherever he is, I know for certain that there is the essence of love all around him. Through his life, Harold taught us the power and the beauty of love.