Early on in life, I had a first-hand lesson in loving my neighbor as myself.
It came at a tough time. I was single and out of work-my broken-down car made it hard for me to find a job. I had no TV, no phone and often no food. My alcoholic sister, who lived next door, had a baby to care for. She often used her food stamps to buy beer and drink her problems away.
My only lifeline was prayer. I prayed day and night for God to show me what to do, where to go and how to get there.
I began to feel God as an ever-present source of love.
My daily prayer included inspiration from Mary Baker Eddy’s Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures and the Bible. I was learning that God is Love and I accepted that. I began to feel God as an ever-present source of love that I could trust.
But sometimes, life was almost too hard.
One day, I was at an all-time low. I had no food. Things were so desperate that I didn’t even have enough money for light bulbs. I dreaded spending another night alone, hungry and in the dark. Out of desperation, I went for a walk in the pouring rain.
Crying and praying as I walked, I felt impelled to go to a church across the street that I’d never been to before.
“Come on,” he said kindly, “start picking out food.”
I went inside and started spilling out my troubles to a woman I met. She directed me to a man who listened carefully to my story.
In our conversation he asked what my religion was. I was afraid he might not help me since I wasn’t of the same religion. But, to my surprise, he got up and said, “Follow me.” Out to a car we went and drove to a nearby supermarket.
“Come on,” he said kindly, “start picking out some food.”
“I would find some way to pay him back.”
I felt so reluctant to pick up anything, but he just kept on moving the cart, urging me to put food in it. When we got to the meat I hesitated, as that was the most expensive thing in the store. But he was adamant and said, “You need to get some meat. It’s good for you, so go ahead and pick some out.”
Then I remembered my sister and started to pour my heart out about her troubles. Wheeling the cart around, we went through the aisles again, with him urging me to pick out two of everything.
I promised my church angel I would find some way to pay him back. He looked at me and said, “Look, I have been doing this for 20 years and have heard that same promise many times before. Not one time has anyone come back to fulfill their promise. So keep your promise to yourself-it’s okay.”
I had an even greater sense that God was with me.
He drove me home and helped me unpack the carload of food, wishing me luck as he walked out the door.
My sister, her baby and I had enough food for two weeks. We had light bulbs again-and I had an even greater sense that God was with me.
A few weeks later while praying, I remembered the promise I had made. So I went back to the church and worked for a few hours that day. Although I didn’t see my generous benefactor, I was sure the people I worked with would let him know about my volunteer work.
A few days later I came home to find a note taped on my door. It was from him-telling me of a job opening, along with a check so I could get my car fixed.
I did fix my car and go on to see better times. My sister also started her journey to recovery from alcoholism and has been clean and sober for over 15 years.
Thanks to my corner church angel, I gained more than food. I gained hope in humanity and a deeper appreciation for the love that binds people together and points to one common God.