Then I forgot about it until now when I started to examine all of these little cards being dealt that were actually part of the same deck – if I could only be swift enough to figure it all out.
Sometimes the message is as loud as a clanging gong; other times, we have to piece together clues like Sherlock Holmes to decipher what we are being led to do.
Our recent journey has been more of the Sherlock type – clues at every turn, all diverse but yet all so the same.
The first piece of the puzzle started with this gem of a book. Now hear me out on this one, friends. I often get eye rolls and “OK, Natalie’s” when I start a sentence with “There’s a really great book…” or bore my subjects with the latest tidbit that is going on in the literary world I might be occupying at the moment.
OK. I admit it. I’m a complete book nerd. Always have been (since the days when I was in elementary school and the local librarian said I would need to stop going through the summer reading program ON THE THIRD TIME AROUND because apparently I was draining their supply of free books awarded upon completion…N-E-R-D.)
Maybe it’s because my father was living on the streets for a while. Maybe it’s because I have a compassion for the least of these. Maybe it’s because when given the choice, I will always cheer for the underdog.
But this book. Oh my. It will literally change the way you view so much you thought you already knew. Not to mention the wonderful fact that it’s a true story.
It starts with a sweet and gentle woman named Debbie who had a servant’s heart and wanted to leave the world a little bit better than when she first arrived. She married a man named Ron Hall, who became a wealthy Austin art dealer that wanted for nothing – they had it all.
Debbie felt a tap on her shoulder to get out and serve the homeless – she didn’t know why she was being called to this particular population but there was not a doubt in her mind that she wanted to do so.
And she didn’t want to just serve them a meal and get in her car and drive away – she wanted to get into their hearts. See the eyes of their souls. Treat them like people.
Before she began to volunteer at a local shelter, she told Ron that she kept having a dream about a man that was going to change all of Austin. Ron pretty much responded with “That’s nice, honey” and moved on.
Until the day when he decided to tag along with his wife at the local shelter where she had been volunteering. As they were serving meals, in walks a large, African-American man who was madder than a hornet and demanding, in not the most pleasant language, that someone better tell him where his shoes are located.
“That’s him,” Debbie told Ron. “That’s the man from my dream.”
That man was Denver Moore, a modern day slave (he had been a sharecropper in Louisiana) who had fled his past life by hopping on a train, “hobo style”, that took him to Texas. He lived on the streets.
Debbie begins to slowly chip away at Denver and eventually they become close friends. Then Debbie is diagnosed with an aggressive form of cancer and is not given long to live (this is not a spoiler – it’s in the summary of the book!).
Along the way, Ron also befriended Denver but was not as close as Debbie was to him. Ron felt like he was doing Denver a favor – teaching him the way to “be”.
Ron eventually figures out that he actually learns more about how to “be” from Denver than Denver does from him.
Their friendship is inspiring and thought-provoking – Denver forces one to think about things in a way that are so much more simple than we typically do.
One of my favorite examples is from a conversation Denver and Ron had in a coffee shop one day. Ron laid out his key ring and Denver expressed amazement that he owned something that went with each of the keys on his ring – “I don’t have any keys,” Denver said.
Ron said something to the tune of “They are just to things I own,” to which Denver responds, without missing a beat, “Do you own them or do they own you?”
Another conversation between these two men was about friendship and I won’t do it justice. You’ll just have to read it because it will tranform your mind. (Noticing a trend here?)
In closing, I want to share one of my favorite Denver Moore quotes…
“I’m just a nobody trying to tell everybody and someone who can save anybody.”
Other fun tidbit: Their story is being made into a movie starring Samuel Jackson as Denver Moore…