Monday, August 19, 2013

Count Them One By One

(post expresses Christian sentiment)

Whenever Joe and I leave home we each make sure that we've got some spare change with us. We want to be prepared so that when someone asks us for change, we've got it. There is a man that we'd never given money to, but whom we see often. He is almost exactly in the middle of our walk between home and grocery store. Going down, we're out of change by the time we get to him, coming home the same is true. I always nod to him and kick myself for not remembering to save something for him.

Over the weeks he's been there, always in the same spot, his presence has grown. He sits, impossibly thin, shirt off, with a bushy white beard. His white hair is pulled back into a long pony tail. Typically his sandals are off and sitting neatly together beside him. He places a cup out to catch any change offered, but other than that never asks.

What I've really noticed about him is that whenever he does have something, he shares it. I've often seen him give half a sandwich to any one of a number of street youth who huddle beside him as if he is their protector from a world that both knocks them down and keeps them down. When they aren't there, he shares bits of bread with a few of the birds that seem to be round him, waiting, like he does, for the gift of food.

His clothes always seem to be clean, his hair washed, his face shining. He looks like an old hippy on some days, a modern saint on others. There is nothing but gentleness about him. One day, when going by, I saw a woman, in a business suit, sitting on her haunches beside him, her back leaning on the wall. She was talking quietly and crying, he was listening intently and crying with her. I don't know what she shared with him, but he felt with her.

The other day we'd finished our shopping and I remembered to keep some change in my pocket to give to him. I figured that, over time, he'd given lesson after lesson to me. It was time to give back. I approached him, change in hand, and stopped in front of him. The cup was too low for me to reach, I didn't want to throw the money down, or toss it to him, so I said, "the cup is out of my reach." He smiled and said, "let me fix that," and lifted it up to me. I put my change and heard it echo in the empty cup.

He put it down saying, "bless you for this gift," he said it as if he was really offering me a blessing, but he continued, "not just for the coin, but for your notice, it's nice to hear a friendly voice." My eyes filled and I thanked him and I rushed on my way. I felt his blessing on me all day.

I felt that I had been well and truly blessed.

His story is unknown to me. It doesn't matter. His presence, his warmth, his charity are all I need to know.

And I know enough.

Just enough.

To be humbled in the presence of blessing.


B. said...

Until I found your blog I wondered what/if I would find that I could identify with. I now look forward to reading your blog. Acceptance, tolerance, living by example,- we can pass it on, eh!

Anonymous said...

Thank you. I feel like you have shared the blessing with me.

tekeal said...

this is beautiful. thank you for sharing about it.

Louna said...

I enjoyed this post. I think that most people begging are used to gazes avoiding them, even when people are giving them money, and to never really being seen as fellow human beings. I was surprised by the note about the post expressing Christian sentiment, I never saw one before in your blog. Have you been attacked? I'm not Christian, and I can't always relate to the contents of the more religious posts, but who reads a blog expecting everything to be tailored to their interests?

Dave Hingsburger said...

Louna, I have been, respectfully, asked to put a note up when something in my post is specifically Christian. The video is a Christian hymn ... so I put the note up. I've had complaints about gay posts and about posts with curse words - but I've not been asked to note them. So, I try to be responsive.

Anonymous said...

Thank you for passing along that man's blessing. I will try to pass it along, too.


Deb said...

Lovely. Thanks for sharing both the story and the song.

Jayne Wales said...

I feel I want to comment on the song first. It is a very popular song here in Wales, sung at a drop if a hat by Welsh people and so lovely when sung in the oldest European language, Welsh. I have a personal mission now to teach Joe the song in Welsh next time he comes because I know he sings very well. If he sings tenor my husband can sing second tenor with him and we could even try to get him to sing with my husbands beautiful male voice choir.
On the subject of the dear man that you encountered today God bless you both.x

Anonymous said...

Great story, and beautiful hymn. I also want to say thanks for being willing to note in advance that your post has Christian content, since you know that some readers are uncomfortable with it. I am a Christian, and I love the Christian content on your blog, but I am well aware how many people have been hurt in the name of my faith. It means a lot to see you go out of your way to be respectful to them.

Ettina Kitten said...

As someone who went to an abusive Christian school, I was surprised and appreciative that you put a notice telling me that the blog entry refers to Christianity. In this case, it's no big deal, but I do sometimes get upset by mentions of Christianity, so I like the warning.