I met a less fortunate man named Jesse last week. He and I talked for hours. There were many dangerous people in the neighbourhood that he stayed, and he pointed them out for me. As we continued to talk, he never asked for a cent.
On Monday I bought him a new sweater and some sandwiches. He was shocked, and cried as he rolled up the sandwiches in the sweater and went to hide them, (he said he’d be attacked if others knew).
I couldn’t stop thinking about the situation that evening…
It moved me so much that yesterday as I was out doing my errands, I went to a local shop and bought meals for the seven less fortunate folks that frequented that block. Each one got 3 pieces of chicken, a couple biscuits, some french fries, and a bottle of juice. When everyone was walking off with their meal, I handed a final bag to Jesse. In it was 3 full chickens, about 20 biscuits and other goodies.
It’s hard to describe his reaction. Happiness mixed with grief mixed with hope mixed with sheer terror. To him, he had been given a treasure, and that treasure was both welcome and highly coveted. His face at that moment is one I will never forget, and I have to say my life is much richer having known him.
He taught me a great deal about humility.
To be honest, what kindness there was also had guilt mixed in. He explained how he lost his last job (his feet and ankles were highly infected and bone white, so he couldn’t lift), about the passing of several family members, and about how he survived on the street.
It was probably the real first time I’d ever been forced to take a deep introspective look at myself vs. humanity. A face to face encounter with something more than first world problems, so to speak.
I understood more about a single person because I engaged them instead of passing judgment. What a different world we would live in if we would engage one another instead of living in our assumptions and judgments when we have never sat down beside them in their situation to find out why they were there. People want to be understood. People want to be loved. They just want to be heard.