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The Mysterious Man

December 15, 2018

I don’t remember even noticing the man the first few times I took my patient to the school, and if I did I certainly didn’t think him noteworthy.

There were more visible people to notice. The school system has talented and beautiful staff who know just how to manage a classroom full of children with special needs.  There are assistants I have come to know and respect for their unfailing persistence addressing temper tantrums, drool, and awkward announcements.

But the person who I have come to appreciate is a scruffy older man who wears jeans and a rumpled black shirt and is perpetually holding a plastic spray bottle of window cleaner.  He wears bulky work shoes and has tools of his trade dangling off his belt or out of his pockets.

From my narrow viewpoint, he appears to walk around the school building as if it were the wheel inside a hamster’s cage, ever returning to clean the same windows he cleaned before. I see him periodically in the entrance at one end of the building, and in the gym at the other end, as if he has cleaned his way down the hall. 

There are two mysterious things about him, and perhaps this is what makes him so interesting. 

First, he seldom speaks more than a few words, at least in my hearing. His dark complexion makes me think that he might be of Mediterranean origin of some kind, but since I have scarce heard consecutive words out of his mouth, I can’t say anything concrete about his accent. 

Second, is it coincidence that he cleans the front doors of the school at precisely the time that my handicapped patient arrives to school? Is it happenstance that he is in the right place at the right time to let us in out of the cold without having to wait for the office to buzz us through? I only take her once a week, but his presence at the entrance is too regular for random chance.

The silent man reminds me what the story of Christmas reflects: the most influential people are not always the loudest, the cutest, or the most talented. Have you noticed this theme in Christmas songs?

How silently, how silently the wondrous gift is given!

Silently, o’er Bethlehem, the heavens smile above, and all the shining stars beam down, like watching eyes of love.

Silent night! Holy night! All is calm, all is bright!

Or, from Scripture itself…He was oppressed and He was afflicted, yet He opened not His mouth. 

The man with the spray bottle is not showy. But by force of faithful kindness, he has influenced me more than the talented team I observe in the classroom. I wonder if he knows the Lamb without blemish and spot who slid silently into the human world so many years ago–it seems he does– but I may never know.

But one thing I know: there is much to be said for the influence of faithful kindness, week after week. 

Three items of business:

Appendix A

Thank you Rachel Peters Loewen for the train story and the handwritten note all the way from Manitoba!

Appendix B

I don’t believe I’ve mentioned it, but I have finished my first draft of the book I am writing, and am taking a break this month. I will revisit it in January to make revisions. So far in December, I’ve canned tomato juice, gotten four teeth filled, gotten my eyes checked, and made Christmas cookies.  It’s been a nice change of pace! 

Appendix C

I feel indebted to explain my upcoming sponsored post to you.

The other month, I got an email from a company I had never heard of, asking if I would write about their card lines if they would sponsor my blog post. I get periodic strange emails, but this one was striking in that the person crafting the email actually knew how to spell. Her email was well-written, and for good measure her signature explained the difference between stationary and stationery.

However, I replied that I would not review their cards since I had no experience with them. I was congratulating myself for politely declining the sponsorship when I received another email from their Christmas card department, offering me free samples if I would consider reviewing the cards for them and writing about them. 

Herein lay my mental turmoil. My blog costs $180/year to maintain, without factoring in the approximately 100 hours I spend on it. However, I don’t really want to use ads, for several reasons, and I wasn’t sure about writing a sponsored post.

I decided to order the samples. I was smitten by the color palette on the website. I was happy with the finished product as well, both the quality and personal touch, so I decided I could genuinely share about my experience. 

After some thought, I decided against writing it in place of my Saturday post. I decided on “Monday Merchants” where I may occasionally share a sponsored post or do some writing to generate funds. I plan to only write about things that I find interesting and that I think you might find interesting.

I think you will find the company I agreed to feature interesting, even if you aren’t in the market at the exact moment. Just for fun to kick off Monday Merchants, I will be sending a limited number of our personal Christmas cards from that company to the first people to enter their address into the link (a private link of course) that will show up on that blog. I plan to post the blog promptly at 5pm on Monday. We’d love to get your Christmas card too at 410 Brady Street, Elkhart, IN  46516. I wish I could send a Christmas card to every reader…maybe in a later year if I build up a little balance! 

15 Responses to The Mysterious Man

  1. Rachel December 15, 2018 at 8:21 pm #

    Thank you, Katrina, for the time and effort you put into your blog! Thank you, too, for the reminder that quiet faithfulness is so important! God’s blessings to you and Marnell this Christmas!

    • Katrina December 15, 2018 at 8:26 pm #

      Thank you! Blessings to you!

  2. Jeanie December 15, 2018 at 9:07 pm #

    Great reminder that being a servant is the most important in God’s eyes. Where did you get your Nativity Set? I love it!

    • Katrina December 15, 2018 at 9:25 pm #

      Marnell got in Bethlehem, Israel. 😀 I think too it’s quite nice.

      • Katrina December 16, 2018 at 8:26 am #

        Correction: Bethlehem, Palestine 😀

  3. Rosanna December 15, 2018 at 10:36 pm #

    Great post! In our new station in life here, it is interesting to observe ‘the quiet ones’ and all that they respresent/accomplish.

    But now I’m curious…train story? The one about the poor family in Canada?

    • Katrina December 15, 2018 at 10:37 pm #

      Yes, that was the one!

  4. Gina December 16, 2018 at 8:16 am #

    Thanks for your quiet faithfulness in writing here each Saturday. I look forward to checking your blog each Sunday morning, knowing that there will be quiet words of inspiration to begin my week.

    • Katrina December 16, 2018 at 8:25 am #

      Thank you for the encouragement Gina! My sister Kelsie from Wisconsin was just telling me how much your blog encouraged her. It reminded me to add it to my reader for easier access.

  5. Sheila December 16, 2018 at 3:00 pm #

    Sweet post Katrina. Love that u honored a simple faithfulness. Somehow those are compelling. I have pockets in my memory bank of such kindnesses done to me. I think I shall always remember them?

    • Katrina December 16, 2018 at 6:03 pm #

      They are worth the memory!

  6. victoria December 16, 2018 at 9:47 pm #

    Wow, you had me worried with that first sentence. Someone lurking around a school (cue the ominous music). isn’t it sad that these days that innocent sentence could instantly bring a worrying thought about what might follow?

    He sounds like a kind and compassionate person. I really don’t think that there are angels with fluffy white wings hovering around us all unknown (although who knows what happens that we are unaware of) but I do believe that there are people out there who God inspires to be at certain places at certain times to help others when they have a real need for assistance. For me those are God’s angels here on earth to make things better in an imperfect world.

    • Katrina December 16, 2018 at 10:02 pm #

      You are right about these days. And yes, I like your thoughts about God inspiring people to help other people. It is fun to be on the receiving end, but equally fun to give!

  7. Tina Fehr December 16, 2018 at 10:34 pm #

    Finished your book draft— good for you! I’d be interested to learn more about your writing process.

    • Katrina December 17, 2018 at 6:13 am #

      Thanks Tina. In brief I outline somewhat and then write from beginning to end. But I’m taking January to tear it all apart again. I probably write too quickly sometimes. I know the longer you let things set, the better! I see on your blog you have a writing group… I should join one of those for additional sharpening!