Good news on Good Friday: There's hope for civilization

Consider this part of an intermittent series.

Honesty really pays for a homeless man who returned an engagement ring accidentally given to him by a motorist:

It began when Sarah Darling saw Harris panhandling on a Kansas City, Missouri, street and offered him spare change, according to her husband Bill Krejci. Darling forgot she’d placed her wedding and engagement rings in her change purse because they’d irritated her finger. When she dumped out all her change for Harris, she inadvertently gave him her engagement ring.

“She just wasn’t thinking and put everything from her change purse into his cup,” said Krejci, who has been married to Darling for two-and-a-half years.

Darling didn’t realize until the next day that her ring was missing and immediately determined where it could be.

“We kind of thought we might not have a chance to get this back,” Krejci said.

The pair headed back to find Harris, who indeed did have the ring. He retrieved it from a hiding place under a nearby bridge.

Krejci was so touched, he started an online drive for a reward for the man, Billy Ray Harris, hoping to amass $1,000. Once the story went viral, the fund went over $150,000. Harris is now living in a basement apartment and has found someone to advise him on his influx of money.

In the D.C. area, a commuter was driving to work last week when he picked up a stranger for carpooling— a “slug,” as they’re known here. If you’re not familiar with the practice, around the Beltway, commuters will pick up fellow commuters in designated areas— slug lines, they’re called— so as to gain access to the HOV lanes that make commuting quicker and easier. There’s no money exchanged for the mutually beneficial arrangement, and the nature of the transaction makes it real easy to have no idea who you’re transporting or how to get in touch with them.

It took less than 48 hours to find the owner of a plain white envelope full of cash, left in Reginald Day’s car by a “slug” during an afternoon commute. Which is what makes this story cool:

Reginald Day’s Tuesday afternoon commute started like most others.

In D.C., he stopped to pick up his wife and a stranger, a slug who would enable him to drive in the HOV lanes.

He dropped the woman he didn’t know at a Woodbridge commuter lot and headed home.

That’s when his normal commute took a turn.

“When I got home, and I was getting stuff out of the car we found the envelope with money in it in the back seat,” the Dumfries resident said.

The plain white envelope had no markings, no identification, and held $617 in cash.

Day said he immediately drove back to Horner Road Lot 2 to see if the woman he last saw walking on the sidewalk was still there, perhaps realizing she lost the envelope and searching for it herself.

She was not.

Day was able to find the woman within a couple of days thanks to word getting around the Internet that he was looking for her.

“I feel great,” Day said now that he knows the money will be going back to the woman. “I’m glad it was resolved quickly.”

He’s not looking for anything in return. “There is no way I can pocket someone else’s money,” Day said. “Never entered my mind.”

And, this one’s just inspiring as all get out:

A teen from Bend, Ore. made the history books by becoming the first person with Down syndrome to climb to the base camp of Mount Everest.

Eli Reimer, 15, and his father arrived at Los Angeles International Airport to find a crowd of supporters waiting for him Tuesday night. The two returned to the states from Nepal after a successful mission to raise money and awareness for disabled children.

Eli trained for a year before he and his dad set out on a two-week, 70-mile hike to reach the Everest base camp. The altitude was 17,600 feet.

“I would say over 90 percent of the world’s cultures don’t accept disability and wouldn’t think that somebody like my son would be able to attempt let alone complete something like this. So it was an amazing experience to do it with him. And like I said he actually led the way. We were dragging. We were experiencing our own sense of disability as we went up into the mountains and he led us all the way to base camp,” described Eli’s father, Justin Reimer.

For those of you who may have done a couple 14ers, you know 18K is no joke. I’m into acute mountain sickness territory at 15.5K. Rock on, Eli, and may you inspire many others to kick their butts into gear, disability or no.

And, finally, has it not been a joy and a privilege to watch Pope Francis be such a clear living testament to Christ’s love during this holy season? I’ve been struck by the power of someone living humbly and letting Jesus shine right on through him. Washing the feet of prisoners of all kinds, is simply, exactly what Jesus would do. It is a symbol of what the Church, and the entire Christian faith, strive do with great tenderness every day, all over the world— care for the least among us. The faithful in a fallen world do not do this without mistakes or failures or even, as we’ve seen, egregious abuses. That essential, caring nature of the faithful, and of Jesus himself, is often obscured by such mistakes, by prejudice, and by cynicism. But this week, I began to see Pope Francis’ simple act popping up in the Facebook feeds of friends who are not practicing Catholics or Christians, and even a few who would normally be scornful of the faith.

That is ministry. That is the work of God and of a servant humble enough to let it happen.

“Take my life and let me be, a living prayer, my God to Thee.”

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