I’m sitting in the booth of a local restaurant when I find myself talking with a friend about the good work he does for the homeless. Tireless in his compassion, he and a handful of others work year around to help those who’ve dropped of the grid of society – sharing a simple brown bag meal, bottle of clean water, and a warm smile.
I thank him for his service to others and tell him I’ve long admired his compassion for those in need.
My friend is humble; quick to deflect credit to others. But I know he is there – right alongside the others who wade deep into the darkness beneath the interstate overpasses where many retreat to avoid the abrasive elements of nature’s elements. To him, the nightly weather forecast projects images of not what he should wear the next morning, but rather of those he spends so much of his time and heart to help.
We talk about his constant commitment and what motivates a person to reach out to others.
His answer, so succinct and simple, moves me.
“A lot of times making a difference in the world is as simple as using what we feel in our heart and taking action on it.”
I think about his words – and how they apply to me.
How often do I find myself saying ‘someone should…’ when I see someone in need? How often do I, as my friend’s words remind me, actually move to action? It is one thing to feel what your heart is telling you – it is a completely different thing to step forward and do something.
The other night as I pulled up to a stoplight I noticed a man with a cardboard sign slowly walking down the lane of cars. As my wipers cleared away the light rain I noticed him step and stumble – only to notice the prosthetic attached below the knee of his right leg. His head and eyes focused intently on the uneven and dark ground before him.
My wallet was empty and I had nothing to share. He paused alongside my car as if to give me a moment before eventually moving on to the next car. Looking in my rearview window I noticed him move towards the window of the car where someone held out a dollar for him. A few words were shared between the two, the light changed, and the cars all moved forward leaving him alone in the dark.
But I couldn’t get the moment out of my mind – but then I recalled an amazing sequence I saw the week of Christmas in a very similar situation. As unseasonably weather visited, I watched as a car came to a pause before a man stationed at stoplight. The window rolled down and from it came an arm and a brightly colored scarf – red, green, yellow and orange. The man, startled, quickly took the scarf and wrapped it around his neck.
I’ve thought of this beautiful moment – and how this person did exactly what my friend suggested. From the warmth inside of a stranger’s car, someone felt the pain of another – and acted. Maybe they, too, did not have any spare change or a few dollars to give. But what they did, was to take action on what their heart told them with whatever resources they had to make a difference.
I can learn from my both my friend and the arm shooting out in the car – all I have to do is remember how one brightly colored scarf changed another’s life.
– 30 –