I’m not Catholic anymore, but I still observe Lent. I like the challenge of not eliminating something and adding something instead; It makes me aware of humanity around me and how I can contribute and notice my privilege and a be a positive part of humanity.
For about ten years, I have started giving people on the street money when they ask. At first, it was an exercise in being ready for my fellow human. Then, it became a game of how-many-times-will-i-get-asked. After, it’s now turned into empathy, and love, and noticing how many are in need all the time, all around us.
Today, we are in Detroit on tour. It is cold and snowy here, and we’ve driven past a lot of stockpiled waters for the people of Flint. A man was standing outside a Starbucks, huddled over a trashcan. Rance had called in our order so we could get on the road quickly to Canada, and I hopped out of the car to run inside. The man said hello, and I did too. I made eye contact, and he seemed surprised. He then asked if I had any money to share, and I really didn’t – nothing in pockets. I talked to him for a minute though, and he was kind and cold and earnestly shocked that I stopped.
When I came back to the car, I remembered a wad of cash I actually carried for tolls, and I gathered it up and went to him again. I told him I had it in my pocket and I had forgotten.
Him: Honestly, I’m just honored you stopped.
Me: Do people not stop much?
Him: (smiles gently) Just thank you for talking.
Me: Yes. Of course. I’m sorry people just fly by sometimes.
Him: I’m just trying to survive. It’s nice when someone helps me do that.
Me: I hope your days are better.
Him: God bless you, hon. God bless you.
Me: You too.
After I left, I saw another person walk up to him and put something in his hand. It’d be easy to say OHTHISISJUSTSOMEHOTSPOTWHERERHISGUYJUSTGETSFREEMONEYAND blah blah blah, but I am choosing to notice the truth and believe in much more, believe that another human saw someone helping out a fellow man/woman, and that opened them up to continued vulnerability and charity, themselves.
This is a reminder to myself, to always talk, always ask, and always be a human looking out for humanity.