Thursday, March 26, 2009
Ralph roamed the streets of Reynolds as long as I can remember. The truth is I never knew his last name and I’m not even sure Ralph was really his first name.
I suppose every small town has a Ralph.
Ralph always wore this heavy coat he is wearing in this picture. If it was cold outside it came in handy. When it was 100 degrees he had to be miserable. But he always dressed like it was winter. He lived in an old shanty on the outside of town but all he did was sleep there. When he wasn't sitting on a bench in town, he could be found walking along the roads and highways in the county. One night someone saw him walking down a highway 90 miles south of Reynolds. Some jerk had picked him up and taken him that far and put him out.
Some of us idiotic kids made fun of him. When we asked him how to spell “Ralph” he would quickly respond with these letters: D-I-N. And he would say, “If you didn’t know it then you know it now.”
He became known to many folks as D-I-N Ralph.
Ralph always had a harmonica packed away somewhere inside that coat. If you asked him to play it he would proudly pull it out and begin playing. He would tap his foot and intermittently sing along with whatever he was playing. He would look in your eyes when he was playing and when he was done he would grin really big. He was not at all ashamed of his rotten teeth.
As I grew older I quit asking him to spell his name. And I would give him a few dollars when I saw him. And I picked him up in my truck when I passed him walking down the road. He always got in the back of the truck. I never remember him actually getting in the cab.
Ralph apparently never contributed much to society.
But maybe his contribution to society was not what God had in mind when he planted this Ralph in Reynolds, GA.
Maybe it was about how folks like me would serve him and relate to him. Maybe this is what Jesus was talking about in Matthew 25:40.
If so, I flunked the test.
God help me.