“I’m sure that’s you on the cover!”
A small group of Northwestern students came to volunteer at CCO this past Saturday, Jan. 20. They were a lively and friendly group, and they really had a good time. Derrick, one of our new cooks, was having a good time directing and conversing with them when the topic of my book came up.
“Now, here’s Chris, he wrote a book, you know,” said Derrick. “And he said it was really hard for him to be homeless for a couple of days. But can you imagine what it’s like to be homeless for a year or more?”
“Yeah, that is true, ” I chimed in. “I really couldn’t handle much.” Then I retreated to my office to get a few of my flyers that have the cover of the book on the front and info of what it’s about on the back.
Then I went back into the kitchen and passed my flyers out to the students. “Now this a lot more like what I’d expect from folks who call themselves Christians,” said one student. “You know, not like all those Christians that we hear about in today’s news.”
“Oh well, thanks, ” I replied. “I hope so.”
Then the students comments turned to the picture on the cover. “And that’s you, right?” one student casually remarked.
“No, that’s not me, ” I calmly replied. “That’s a stock photo.”
“No, really, that’s you,” the student continued. “You’re playing a trick on us.”
Now this is not the first that I’ve heard that particular comment before. In fact, there’s been more than a few folks who have made the same comment. So I wasn’t overly surprised.
And of course, I do have to admit there’s a striking “possible” resemblance between my picture —if I had long hair and a beard–and this gentleman in this “stock photo.” And to be sure this man truly does exemplify the typical homeless, white man. It’s possible that this photo could be mistaken for me —with long hair and a beard.
And there’s nothing wrong with that. I mean, why should I care if someone really thought that was me on the cover? I mean, this man really does symbolize “the least,” the very folks that I’ve written about these years. And I don’t mind being associated with them at all. In fact, I find it an honor… in a strange sort of way. For this man, whoever he is, I’m sure has a lot to teach me…if I’d only be open to listen.
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