Lo! and Behold! The Goose family arrived at Free Church (an inter-denominational church meeting at the Lake Theater in Oak Park at 9:00 on Sunday mornings for fellowship and worship), and our friend, Lawrence Little, was greeted by several people. Indeed he had visited our church on several occasions and knew many of the regular attendees.
“Hey, how are you, Lawrence?” “Good to see you!” “How have you been?” “So glad that you’re here this morning!” They are a friendly and caring group of individuals.
Lawrence stuck close to my side as we walked through the pre-worship crowd in the lobby of the movie theater. He seemed wary and edgy. I was reminded of a puppy in an unfamiliar environment although it was plain that he had been here often. His eyes darted around as though he was looking for someone or something.
“Would you like some hot chocolate, Lawrence?” Mother Goose asked.
“Oh no thank you. I’m fine. Natalie, will you please talk with Chuck about maybe he can help me?”
“Yes, of course, I will,” and I looked around for our pastor. He was busily working his way through the lobby and chatting with people and heading for the auditorium.
“Good morning, Chuck,” I said. “We’ve brought our friend, Lawrence, this morning. Will you be able to talk with him?”
“Of course,” he answered. “Let’s meet right here after the service.” And he smiled and walked off towards the auditorium, announcing to us all that we were ready to go in now and the service would be starting very soon.
Mother Goose turned to Lawrence. “See?” I looked into his eyes. “Chuck can meet us afterwards and we’ll talk about Safe Haven and helping you out.”
We walked into Theater 7, greeting friends as we entered. We sat near the front as we always do, close to the band. The music started as we were removing our coats, scarves and hats. For the first time in my life, I saw Lawrence without his many jackets on. He was so much thinner than I would have imagined. I would even call him scrawny. I wondered if he wore the many large coats to make himself look bigger and more formidable as he lived and moved about on the streets…
We sang some beautiful songs to the Lord and heard a really good message about love and marriage. I looked over at Lawrence and smiled. I tried not to look too intently at him, but Lawrence seemed genuinely moved and praying passionately.
I was truly happy that he was there with us. I felt very protective of him. I felt like I was his sponsor (if there is such a thing). Though other people recognized him and had greeted him, only one woman had actually hugged him and stopped walking just to chat with him and follow up with him. She asked if he had found work, and if he had found housing. She really seemed to care if he had made the phone calls that she had suggested to him. She smiled at him and treated him as a brother.
Other people just walked on by.
One man stopped to listen to our chatting with Lawrence about heading downtown to Safe Haven. Apparently, they could not accept “walk ins” and he would need a referral from another place in order to be put on their waiting list for housing. Apparently, their office was not open on Sunday. Apparently, there was nothing that Mother Goose could do to help.
“Lawrence,” I said. “We are going to have to go home and get lunch for the kids. Pastor Chuck will be here to help you in just a few minutes. Is it OK if we leave you with this man for now?”
“Oh yes,” he said, nodding and with a small smile. “Thank you, Ms Natalie.”
The next day, Lawrence came back to our home for more hot chocolate and a visit with Husband Goose. You’ll want to come back to hear the rest of the story, right?