How many times do we go through life unaware of the pain of others? As I pass people on the street asking for money I always try to stop. There have been two incidences recently with disabled veterans. One was standing to the right of a popular megastore hoping someone would notice. As we stopped to turn right I opened my window and handed the older gentleman some money. His sign said “Homeless Disabled Veteran suffering from cancer,” His eyes beamed as he took the money. He said “Bless you I haven’t eaten and I’m so hungry. I was wondering if I would get to eat today.” It touched my heart as it always does.
We hear stories of panhandlers playing the system and that puts doubts into our minds. I’ve learned to give from the goodness of my heart and leave out the judgment. I figure if these people are put in my path it is for a reason. But I’ve realized there are even more souls in our midst that we do not recognize.
A year ago I was outside checking the mail when a woman walking two dogs was passing by. She was poorly dressed in a baggy shirt and no bra. Her jeans were tattered and worn and her hair looked as though it had not been combed for days. As usual I said hi and she stopped to talk. She mentioned that she was very poor living in a house in need of serious repair left to her by an uncle who had passed away. She said she didn’t have much to eat. I asked ‘ what do you need?” Anything would be appreciated she said, especially fresh, like fruit. It’s been so long since I’ve had fresh fruits and vegetables. I immediately came inside and filled a big bag with groceries for her.
As I handed her the bag she said thank you but didn’t leave. There was a silence in the air. I took this time to sit on the bench by the front door. Then she said something that shocked me. “I’ve prayed for a long time for this, she paused then continued, to have a friend to talk to.” In that moment I realized what a gift we could be to each other. For this woman in need it was not the food but the friendship that filled her.
There is a tribe that has a greeting of “I see you.” To acknowledge that we are accepted and seen just as we are. In being our authentic selves we are at our greatness. Just for today. Take a moment and see others and acknowledge “I see you.” Be the gift and fill their heart.