(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.
To be humbled in the presence of blessing.