This is something that happened to me a few years ago and I wrote about it then. But now we are again in the season of giving, and I have no excuse not to share this simple incident. Or better yet, remember the gift I got that day and up my efforts to give back. We now have a car, but I still walk and take public transportation as much as possible. Incidents like this are partly why.
One of the great joys and blessings of walking and taking public transportation is that I get to talk to a lot of different people. Okay, some of them are a little scary. But they’re rare. Most folks are pleasant and some… Well, the wisdom is amazing and I am often humbled.
Take last week. My route took me over a freeway overpass and near the end of the offramp is a place frequented by homeless people, hoping to get some change or whatever from the drivers coming off the freeway. I had stopped and was waiting for the light to change, and as is my habit, was trying to do some unobtrusive leg stretches. The homeless man nearby spoke to me.
“I’m sorry, I don’t have anything,” I said, thinking he was asking for change.
“No,” he said. “Do you have cramps? Because I have a banana.”
Well, I didn’t have cramps and said so.
“Even a homeless person can give,” he replied.
I thanked him and moved on, feeling rather sad that I really didn’t have anything for him.
But why is it that the folks who have the least are the most willing to share what little they have? How can I justify not sharing all the good things I have when even a homeless person was willing to give me his banana to relieve me of some leg cramps?
I was truly blessed by this encounter. And I did write the check to Catholic Worker right away, to help support their program of feeding and caring for the homeless. But, gee, if I’d been in a car, I wouldn’t have had those blessings, or many of the others I’ve encountered simply because I walk or ride the bus. Anne Frank was right – people really are good at heart.