A good woman once taught me that there are two kinds of people in the world: those who walk into a room, and say, “There you are!” and those who walk into a room and say, “Here I am.
I thought of this yesterday when I drove back-and-forth to Pittsburgh, and on my way out of the city stopped by to see a friend, Walt Turner. A very good man, he offers an honest heart to anyone, more eager to serve than to be served.
His family has been milking cows for four generations, and providing milk for Pittsburgh over most of 100 years. Because of urbanization, the cows no longer are in Penn Hills—over time the houses and people pushed them out –but the Turner Dairy contracts with many farmers in the region who send their milk by the tank-full into the dairy operation on Jefferson Road, producing all kinds of nourishment to the city. Their milk goes to the Pittsburgh Public Schools, to the Children’s Hospital, and to countless small and large businesses throughout the area. It is not too much to say that Pittsburghers live by Turner Milk.
I have written about Walt before, and if you are interested in the relationship of cows and the common good, then you can read it here.
Because he is my friend, he not only smiles from his deep heart, but he knows that I like his chocolate milk and their distinctive Black and Tan. The former won a Gold Medal at the Los Angeles International Dairy Competition, and the latter is the original “Arnold Palmer,” the mix of tea and lemonade they brought it into being at Palmer’s suggestion years ago, native of Western Pennsylvania that he is. For more on their awards, see here.
To know someone who believes that we are responsible, for love’s sake, for the welfare of a city, is a good gift. But maybe it is even more than that. In reality it is critical for a common life that nourishes, rather than destroys us. To see the ordinary work of milking cows, of driving trucks, of analyzing milk for bacteria, of bottling milk, of controlling thermostats, of selling products at a fare price, as mattering to God and the world, is a calling, and it is that that connects cows to the common good.
And that Walt opens the door of his heart, even as he opens the door of his dairy, is the best gift, and it is why he is my friend. Every time with everyone, he is “There you are!” person, and we all are graced. I am, but wonderfully, strangely, a whole city is too.