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When I’m not in McGregor, there are two places that feel like home to me. The first is anywhere in the UK. I’m not sure why, but it always feels like I’ve only been away for a bit. It’s home. Yeah, I can’t explain that, it’s just what I feel. The other place is Fayetteville, Arkansas. That little village is where I went to school when I left home in August 1976. There are some things there that have changed drastically, but mostly it still feels like it did when I first moved there. Nine months after becoming a student at the U of A, I took my new bride to Fayetteville. We lived all over that campus. We didn’t have money to do anything so we walked and played throughout the beauty all around us. It was magical, and obviously it left a deep imprint in my spirit. It’s home.

IMG_5196I got another chance to return to Fayetteville a couple weekends ago for a football game. Tailgating in the Ozarks under blue-filled October skies is breathtaking. Hanging out with my best college buddy and just taking it all in is total refreshment. It didn’t hurt that we beat Auburn, but that was just cake. Being there is usually enough for me. Memories and nostalgia hangs everywhere like gaudy drapes. I genuinely love it.

On that particular Saturday it was an 11:00am kickoff. That’s early for heavy tailgating, but we managed a few goodies before we headed to the gate. My buddy was waiting to meet some cousins from out of town, so we were delayed getting into the stadium for all the pregame activities. I was smiling, but internally I was agitated because I wanted to watch Troy Allison (a McGregor boy and a Freshman QB at Arkansas) warm up with the Hogs. We were sitting in the parents section so we all had to go in at the same time, so I was stuck outside the stadium until about a minute before kickoff. Grrrrrrrrr.

While waiting, I decided to walk over to an overview area just outside of the stadium. People sometimes sit there on the grass when the stadium is packed out. From that viewpoint you can see the field clear enough, but you’re a long way off. You can see the player’s jersey numbers, but that’s about all the detail you can get.

So, I’m watching Troy warm up when I notice a guy sitting on a blanket right in front of me. He had a cooler and a pink Hello Kitty backpack. I don’t really want to profile the people I’m about to talk about, but I kind of sensed when I talked to him that something might have been off a little bit. I couldn’t really tell with him, but it was a bit more obvious when his girl (she was probably 50ish) came and sat on the pallet with him. She had the mannerism of an old addict. I don’t have to explain that if you’ve ever been around someone who used to live that lifestyle. I spoke to him and mentioned that he might have one of the better seats to watch the game. In a heavy country accent, he informed me that they had been at the stadium since 5:00am. He wanted to make sure that he got the seat he had on the lawn. There was only one blanket on the lawn. The one they were sitting on.

College football across America is big-time show-time! It’s a general gathering of the beautiful and privileged. Tickets are expensive, concessions are outrageous, parking is ridiculous, and the overall cost of merchandise is exorbitant. We gladly dish it out, but rooting for the home team isn’t cheap. So, to say that the couple on that blanket was out of place might be an understatement. Both were missing most of their teeth, he hadn’t shaved in days, she probably cut her own hair, and the clothes they had on didn’t come from Old Navy or Dillard’s. Goodwill is more probable. As I said, you could just tell.

All of the sudden, a soft-speaking senior adult gentleman brushed past me and stooped near the couple on their parcel of paradise. He said, “Listen, these tickets aren’t the best, but I’d like for you to have them if you want them.” The guy on the blanket just stared in disbelief. The woman popped up like a gopher on fire! She squealed in loud delight, “I’ve never been in that stadium! Never! I’ve seen a lot of games here, but I’ve never been in that stadium! Not one time! Ever!” She was literally jumping up and down—clapping her hands. I will not repeat the conversation going on in my head, but I was messed up. So the tickets changed hands and the gentleman slid out of the scene quietly and quickly.

Their conversation quickly moved to: “What do we do with our stuff?” I suggested that they move the small cooler over behind a merchandise cart and just go on to their seats. While holding hands and grinning like persimmon eating possums they bolted for their gate. It still messes me up when I tarry thinking about it for too long.

The older gentleman took the time to stoop. He stepped out of the normal flow and stooped. He made their day! I suspect considerably more. That’s all I got to say about this. You can figure out the rest for yourself.

Love you all,



Categories: Uncategorized
  1. November 2, 2015 at 3:50 pm

    I love how God is continually showing you the bottomless well of love he’s got for us. This is just another snapshot of it all. Keep sharing it with us.

    Oh, and by the way… the UK? Yeah, I might be able to help y’all out there. Come and see us when you get the chance.

    • November 2, 2015 at 7:23 pm

      I know how to mind the gap. The next ding-dong could be me. x

  2. Paige
    November 2, 2015 at 8:29 pm

    Love it!

  3. Rose Egan
    November 3, 2015 at 4:30 am

    A God moment. Loved it. He “Stooped” and gave them better seats:)

  4. Nicole
    November 3, 2015 at 4:59 pm

    So good!

  5. paul
    November 4, 2015 at 1:33 pm

    You’re killing me Michael. I’ve had a perfectly “compassion free” day till I made the mistake of reading this. Thanks; I think!

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