This week, it snowed. And snowed. And snowed. And then this morning, the bitter wind howled outside my bedroom window as I lay there snuggled in my warm bed.
While I love the snow from the warmth of my comfortable home—and even like playing in the snow with a cup of hot chocolate afterwards—I have thought often of the man I met two weeks ago. As my husband and I finished our lunch in a lovely restaurant, I noticed this man sitting on a curb—holding a sign.
“Do you have any cash,” I asked my husband as he rummaged through his wallet. Four dollars. I would give the man four dollars.
As we exited the restaurant, I approached this gentleman and sat down next to him on the curb. Homeless was the only word I read of the many words scrawled on the tattered piece of cardboard.
“Tell me about yourself,” I said as I placed the four dollars in his hand. “Where are you from, and what brings you here to this curb?”
For the next several minutes, I listened as the man shared a piece of his life. He had come from California thirty years earlier and had worked for several years in a large mine. He then found himself in prison. He lost everything—except his name, which he recited to me in full.
“It’s going to be cold tonight. Where will you sleep?” I asked. With tears in his eyes, he shrugged and motioned to the street.
Some people advise to never give money to beggars.
“Don’t give money.”
“They’ll just spend it on drugs or alcohol.”
“Give them a hand-up not a hand-out.”
“They need to get off their butts and get a job.”
Some people say to give food instead. We offered him our untouched sandwich but he already had one and couldn’t carry more in his small back-pack. Money fit in his pocket.
I couldn’t deny the instantaneous love I felt for this man I had just met.
Would the Savior, born in a lowly stable with a manger for his bed, turn this man away? Or would he look. And would he see.
How many times have I averted my eyes from the man or woman standing on the corner as I exited the grocery store parking lot—not wanting to see? A coin from my hand to theirs would have allowed me to connect—to see them. And to feel a measure of the love our Savior has for them—for each and every one of us.
For we are all homeless—sent to earth from our heavenly home. And whether we watch the snow from the comfort of our warm houses, or whether we sit in the snow on the curb, we all desire to be seen. To be loved.
As I said goodbye to my new friend, Patrick, I gave him a heartfelt hug. I noticed the tears again in his eyes as he said, “God bless you.” In my heart, I prayed that God would bless him.
My hope for all of us this Christmas season is that we can be God’s hands—that we can reach out to one another and connect. That we can see each other.
That we can love.
(Photo credit: http://everyone-is-someone.blogspot.com/)