I'm feeling emotional and thoughtful today. I was on my way to a meeting, sitting at a red light, when a man passed in front of my car. This man appeared to be in his late 50's, but as we all know, poverty can age people way beyond their years, so he could have been younger, as far as I know. He had hair that could use a wash, a grey overcoat, worn tennis shoes and a very intent look on his face. I can't really put my finger on what that look meant. It didn't seem to be pain. Not sadness or stress. Just intensity. I imagined that he was just thinking something like, "Just one foot in front of the other, keep breathing, keep moving." I noticed that there was a cellophane wrapped "honey bun" poking out of his coat pocket. From the direction he was traveling, I bet he'd just come from either the Texaco or Exxon up the street and had bought that honey bun there.
All I could think about was how that honey bun was certainly capable of filling his stomach, but would bring no nutrition. But, that may not matter to him right now. Maybe it was an indulgence that he's saved some pennies for over the last few days. A special, sweet treat that any one of us could throw into our basket without a second thought. I wished I had a roasted turkey, green beans and sweet potato casserole right there in the car that I could give him. But, he may not want it. Meaning, just because he appears to be downtrodden, he can certainly still have pride. He certainly has feelings like I do. Where would he take it? Does he have a home? I just don't know.
My sweet baby child is very focused on homeless and hungry people. She goes to pre-school at our church and our church houses and runs a Soup Cellar. While the children don't spend time down there, they are all aware of it. Vivian takes money from her piggy bank and donates to the Soup Cellar. Even though she's just (almost) 5 years old, the church actually sent her a tax receipt. She has gone to the Winter Shelter with my parents to drop off leftover food donated by area caterers. And recently, she concocted an elaborate plan for us to provide food on the weekends for the Soup Cellar folks since the Cellar is closed on weekends. I'm learning a lot from this beautiful child.
As so many people in today's American economy are suffering, experiencing difficulties and the fear that comes with them, scrimping and getting by, Vivian and this man I saw today remind me of how truly lucky I am. I have a wonderful family. We have a house, we have food, we have love, we have friends who care about us, we have resources. I wish I could run out into the streets and feed all the people who are hungry. No one should be deprived of food, nutrition and health. But it happens, doesn't it? While I can't take care of them all, I can keep doing my part with my compassion, my donations, and my voluntarism. And, encouraging others like you, my friends, to do the same.
I'd love to find that man from today and offer him a meal.