One day, the parish priest came to visit the 4th grade class.
He asked the pupils, “How can you tell when night has ended and day has begun”.
”Could it be,” asked one of one enthusiastic student, “when you can see an animal in the distance and tell whether it’s a sheep or a dog?”
“No,” answered the priest.
Another student asked, “Is it when you look at a tree in the distance and can tell whether it’s a fig tree or an apple tree?”
“No,” answered the priest.”
“Then when is it?”
The pupils were anxious to know.
“It is when you can look upon the face of any man or woman and see that they are your sister or brother. Because if you cannot see this, it is still night.”
Everyday, we encounter people from all walks of life. Some who feel like kindred spirits and some who feel like strangers. It’s easy to accept those we view as being ‘one of us’.
However, we feel a separation and fear of those whose lifestyle are at odds with our own. We can identify with our family, our gender, our country of origin, our religion and assume that every person who fits into those categories will agree with our point of view. It isn’t necessarily so.
I stumbled across this homeless man while I was on vacation. Many tourists passed without a glance his way. He was selling shells. He had an unsanitary odor, was drinking alcohol at 11:00 a.m. and smoking something that had a distinct fragrance.
I stopped because, as a child, I was taught by my Dad that we should help those who have less than us. Often, he would take us to an area in New York called the Bowery. There were homeless people there. He’d park the car and take us kids for a walk among them. They were scary for a child. He would ask them if they’d eaten. He would purchase some hot dogs or sandwiches. He would give us the food to give to them. Then, he’d give them money. Always saying, “ Don’t give up hope. Tomorrow will be a better day.” They’d say, “Izzy, thank you for not forgetting us. You’re a good man.” I felt a sense of pride for my Dad.
On the drive home my Dad would say, “These people don’t want to live this way. Life can bring hardship on you without any notice. You should always help those less fortunate than you. God is watching you and will know if you’re a good and caring person to those in need.”
That day while on vacation:
I stopped because this homeless man was in need.
I stopped because I knew I could give him hope if I helped him.
I stopped because in spite the way he looked, he was a human being.
Of course, he was shocked that I had stopped and was talking to him. Afterwards, he wanted me to take one of his shells with me. I paid him for it but told him he could sell mine to another tourist. Smiling I said, “I’m happy I was just able to talk to you today.”
His eyes filled with tears. He said, “ Pretty lady, I know you’re an angel. No one sees me sitting here. You did. When you go back to heaven, I hope you’ll see my beautiful wife and tell her I miss her.”
There’s tremendous satisfaction in making others happy, despite our own situations. Shared grief is half the sorrow, but happiness when shared is doubled. If you want to feel rich just count your blessings and all the things you have that money can’t buy.
Today is a gift, that’s why it’s called the present.
2015©Isadora De La Vega