Faith-filled advice from an irascible Democratic activist

22 06 2009

Way back when I was in politics, I asked a friend of mine why he always stopped to give money to homeless people.  “Because you never know when you could be looking into the eyes of Christ,” he answered.  It’s some of the best advice I’ve ever received.

And before either give a “Praise Jesus” or roll your agnostic eyes, let me assure you the words did not come from some religious zealot.

They came from a guy named  Dick Bigos.  Anyone active in Massachusetts Democratic politics or social service advocacy in the 80’s or 90’s knew Dick Bigos. As irascible an SOB as ever lived, Dick was one of the world’s best social service advocates and THE force behind the Democratic Party on Cape Cod (to him, the world was divided into two parts: “on Cape” and “off Cape”).   Dick was old-school politics.  He swore like a sailor, smoked like a chimney and drank (caffeine) like a fish.  If he wasn’t at work or on the beach, he was at the dog tracks.  He was as UN-PC as they come.  A fierce supporter of my boss, Gerry Studds (the first openly gay Member of Congress), Dick used to call me and complain that the Studds bumper sticker on his car prevented him from  pulling over at any rest stops to take a leak.  “It’s a f*&%kin’ magnet for you homos,” he’d bitch.

Dick wore each of his vices like a badge of honor for all the world to see.  And he used each one to prick the hot-aired arrogance out of the type of folks you tend to encounter in politics (including yours truly on more than one occasion).

But he never let them camouflage his particular faith, which when you removed all the dogma and tradition and rules, came down to this:  every single living thing is filled with “spirit”…whether it’s a homeless person, an ocean wave, the kid who pours your coffee every morning, even Dick Cheney (or Hillary Clinton, depending on your political views).

And while Dick loved taking risks at the dog track, his advice to me that day was to always hedge your bets when it came to faith.  To never be arrogant enough to presume that you knew who (or what) did (or didn’t) have something to teach you, to inspire you, to make you a better person.

But, rather, to go through life with eyes, ears and heart wide-open so that faith could flow in, out and through you at every moment.

Now, regardless of how you define “faith”, that’s not bad advice to remember on a Monday morning!

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