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Lenten Lights J – Shamrock! 


Happy Saint Patrick’s Day! Meet, Larry Morris, Contributor salesperson, self proclaimed “Black Elvis” and today, Shamrock!

Saturday morning, I stopped by McDonald’s in Bellevue for breakfast on the run, and I was totally delighted by the most cheerful leprechaun I’d seen in… well, ever. I bought the Contributor from him, and said through my car window, “You totally made my morning!” He must hear that a lot. I drove away determined to feature him on my post for St. Patrick’s Day. I also wanted to avoid causing harm in the process – as much as possible given the complexity of the situation.

This morning provided the perfect opportunity. I needed to avoid my office, due to an hour long fire alarm test. I drove, feeling slightly nervous, back out to Bellevue. I went prepared to pay for the privilege of taking a photo and featuring it on my blog. I left my camera in the car and went to ask permission. When I approached he offered me a gold coin and exuded his usual enthusiasm. He knew before I asked just what I wanted.

“Now tell me your name?” I asked.

“Black Elvis! You can look me up on google.”

As we chatted I learned that he has worked this spot since February of 2013, and he currently lives at a local shelter, although he is considering pitching a tent nearby when his time at the shelter runs out. I think about how precarious life is, even with income and a current place to live.

Despite the freezing temps he took off his outer coat and posed for pictures. He sold three papers in the midst of our conversation. “I wish I had my own website,” he said when I told him I wanted to share his picture on my blog.

When it was time to go, I said, “The luck of the Irish to you!” laughing with both joy and at the many ironies of this situation. He never missed a beat, “Shamrock!” he shouted pumping his fist in the air. “Shamrock!” And for a second time, he totally made my day.

The WATE story captures Mr. Morris’ outlook and philosophy for his work on the streets: “People rock and they don’t even know they rock,” Morris said. I know he rocks, and despite all the challenges, my own complicity, and the ecology of brokenness, God’s joyous light shines in the life of Mr. Larry Morris. Thanks be to God.