On any given morning, you will find him wrapped in a camouflage jacket, sitting beside a double-decker bus in downtown Asheville, North Carolina. He is kept warm by a heart beating to make new friends, and lives to tell his story.
When I first introduced myself to him, he shook my hand and said, "I'm Happy."
As in, happiness as more than a condition, more than a fleeting disposition; his entire identity can be summed up in this one word. His name is Happy. And He never disappoints.
Every Saturday morning, Happy makes his way to the parking lot of a non-profit organization that is serving free breakfast. It is here that he announces his intention; "I come here to eat twice. First physically, and then spiritually!"
He tells me about his days in Vietnam, about the loss of his leg (which he props up between his crutches to rest), and about the loss of his son in Hurricane Katrina.
Happy makes his living as a "street musician", breathing deeply into his harmonica, and belting out the lyrics... "Swing low, sweet chariot, comin' for to carry me home!"
If I ever return to vocational ministry, I'm going to bring Happy with me, to serve as my Associate Pastor. I imagine he could be a visual expression of one beggar, telling another beggar where to find Bread.