In the Introduction to his blog, Dennis Cardiff wrote:
“I have come to know many people, now friends, who for various reasons are, or were, homeless…
What has been seen cannot be unseen.”
Dennis reminded me that I used to shut my eyes to people who begged on the streets. I made myself blind to them as I studied the traffic lights carefully, or deliberately engaged my traveling companions in focused conversations that distracted us from seeing them. I couldn’t bear to read their cardboard signs, look at their dirty old clothes that were inappropriate for the weather, or see humanity in their faces.
One day, I saw a woman standing on one of the street corners. Seeing a woman instead of a man was the drop of water that broke the levee in me. Nutrition bars had accumulated in the glove compartment of my car, so I gave them to her. I silently hoped that she would take them to whatever home she had, and share them with many, like the story in the Bible about Jesus feeding an entire crowd with a few loaves of bread and a couple of fish. Then, I kept my supply stocked up, and shared it every week.
Eventually, the same man was on the same corner for several weeks. I felt satisfied when I discovered which nutrition bars he preferred. The way his face lit up when he saw me made me feel great; he looked more human now than stone-faced, even though nearly everyone ignored him and overlooked the opportunity to respond directly to his needs.
When I stopped seeing him, I stopped giving out the bars.
Now, Dennis reminds me of when Joan Baez sang,
“There, but for fortune, go you or I.”
I need to restock my car with nutrition bars.