Today was one of those days that I almost wish I could record as a movie in my mind to keep as a treasured film. After work, I went out with my husband, our kids, and a friend. We went to pick up a guy named Charlie from the gas station where he was sleeping. We met Charlie informally on the side of the road a few months ago and have been stopping to chat with him, every time we are stopped at the light where he frequents.
Today, I got to meet some of Charlie’s friends. We bought food for them, sat together, chatted, and prayed for Charlie’s friends who were sitting next to an abandoned gas station.
After Charlie was done eating he hopped into my husband’s truck and took the ride as we made our way to a place where Charlie could get help acquiring an ID, find a bed to sleep in, and secure some food for dinner.
The process of finding our way around, asking questions, and helping Charlie took a long while. It was about 95 degrees outside and we had been out and about in the heat for a few hours. Our baby was crying while our older kids were asking if we were going home soon. Yet in all the heat and madness I caught a glimpse of Charlie’s smile. His beautiful blue eyes seemed to radiate a glimpse of the heavens. I couldn’t help but think of how his mom may have seen him as a baby. And here he was well into his fifties on the street, dirty, filthy, drunk, and alone. His eyes seemed to tell a long sad story that only someone in his shoes could understand. That thought stayed with me. Charlie had once had a job, a carrier, and a wife and in a short amount of time, he lost it all due to unforeseen circumstances.
My heart broke for Charlie and his friends today, especially when he started to cry after I placed my hand on him and prayed for him. He turned to me and said that no one had ever cared to pray for him or even desire to touch him. His words pushed my mind into a sea of thoughts and as we drove away and said our goodbyes, I couldn’t help but see the great divide between his world and mine
Most normal, non-homeless people don’t usually get out and mingle with the “least of these”.
As a society with goals to meet and places to go, we look the other way when we see things that trouble, bother, or irritate us.
We may complain about a certain group of people in our society like those who are homeless; we may see a need that we don’t understand, but in the end, we do very little if anything to help them.
As I thought about the small and insignificant act of kindness shared with Charlie today I felt as if life itself slapped me hard and strong in the face. I realized yet again just how much other people need a smile, a word of encouragement, a warm meal, and a prayer. We often can go days and days just consumed in our own affairs. We go to the grocery store and don’t even bother to say hello to the person scanning our groceries. They may have just lost a loved one and are in a bad mood yet we perceive their attitude as them being rude to us.
There is just so much we don’t see, so much we don’t know, so much of a person’s story that is hidden.
So this is a gentle reminder for all of us. Next time you’re out and about, take a moment to look into the eyes of the person you’re interacting with. Offer them a big bright smile and if you can, give them a word of hope, it may be the only one they get that day.
Remember to live life as a gift and then give that gift away every day!
People like Charlie will thank you!