The wind is howling outside. It makes an eery sound, whistling through the screens on our windows, shaking the chimes hanging on our porch violently. The air bites my face, almost burning it. The sky is ominous, with black and gray clouds moving steadily all together in one direction, swiftly. So cold. A good day to be inside.
As I am finally sitting in my warm car listening to Sarah McLachlan's Drawn to the Rhythm on my way to an appointment, I spot him. Standing there on a corner holding a cardboard sign, wrapped in an old thin coat, and shivering. His face inscrutable, but the eyes, those eyes tell another story. Of longing, of sadness, of despair, of desperation. People honk at him, and he willingly obeys, walking over to the vehicles, taking handouts from the drivers. He smiles and thanks each person, without looking at what he is handed, stuffing the bills into his pocket.
I feel a heaviness come over my heart. Here I am sitting toasty and warm in my car, and I am watching a man beg in the biting, freezing winter's wind. I take out the only bill in my wallet, a $10.00 and I wonder for a moment, if it will help him in some small way. Will he use it to feed himself, or a potential family? Will he buy drugs or alcohol?
Does it matter? Really? I am blessed with food, shelter, and love. I rolled down my window and beckoned him over, and he nodded at me. He took the money I offered him, and instead of stuffing it in his pocket, he looked at it, which I wasn't expecting. He jerked his eyes up to find mine, and surprise registered on his face. He quickly grabbed my hand, and took my warm fingers into his icy hand, and thanked me, blessed me, and said to have a blessed holidays. A tear formed in his eye, and he brushed it away, as I smiled and drove away. Looking in the rear view mirror, I see him watching me drive away, before he turned back to his task of begging the drivers behind me.
Did I make a difference? Will he be OK? I don't know.
I wish I had had something tangible to give. Such as a bowl of soup, or a sandwich. But I didn't. I don't.
I can only hope he will find somewhere warm to go to, and someday soon he will not have to stand on the corner,with a shabby piece of cardboard stating that he is homeless, in the biting angry wind and beg for money from drivers driving by. That is my wish for him. My wish for all the people like him.
May I be reminded of how blessed I am. May we all be reminded.
(Picture from Portland Rescue Mission)