Wednesday, Nov. 15, 2017 – Homeless and Hungry
I am not sure what intervened today to make me say YES and hand my three clementines and a banana out my car window. I have never done this before!
I don’t know if it was because I was feeling so blessed to have just been able to take an amazing trip with friends and family in Ireland. Or maybe because Thanksgiving was just around the corner? Or maybe it was because I was on my way to a Principals’ Meeting at the Catholic Center so my Irish Catholic guilt meter was set pretty high? Or maybe because he looked like he could have been my own son wearing a knitted cap and carrying the sign “Homeless and Hungry”? Or maybe it was the Holy Spirit that nudged me? Or maybe it was a reflection of a line in a song called “Jesus in Disguise”? I really don’t know what triggered my response of rolling down the window and handing him out my lunch, but I am glad I did it.
I had never come off of exit 5 of Route 8 before and I had certainly never seen him before (I think!). But in this year of living more intentionally, the young man has stayed in my mind.
In the past, I have gone on numerous trips to feed the hungry in NYC through our church’s Midnight Run with Kali. Prior to going, we always have prayed to not judge and simply serve. That seemed respectful and right, but in my car alone, I have never seemed to have that same attitude.
I wonder now how many hungry men (or women) I have pulled up alongside at the end of an exit ramp and made no eye contact with. Perhaps I fiddled with my radio at that moment or maybe I double checked my calendar on the passenger seat. I probably have a whole list of ways I “didn’t look at him”. In my mind, I probably rattled through a list of judgement statements as well in the past…..He must be a drug addict! He will probably spend any money I give him on alcohol! Why doesn’t he just go get a job? How did he find a marker and cardboard if he is homeless? I can never find a working marker in my house!!
Today, no judging statement came to my mind, just the clear thought of “give him your lunch”.
I will never be sure that he didn’t “resell the food for money for alcohol and drugs”, or that he was ever truly physically hungry. But I do know, for that split second, I did look him in the eye and reach out my window with an open hand to him, and a human connection was made. I did what I know felt right. I do know that because of my tiny intentional act, someone’s 25 or 26 year old son had something to eat for lunch that day regardless of whether or not he was truly hungry and maybe he would have preferred drugs and/or alcohol for lunch. That didn’t matter. I knew that he had at least three clementines and a banana for lunch if he wanted them. And as I pulled away, I had a momentary thought. God knows that if it were my son, I prayed that someone would reach out their window, connect for a red-light second and feed my own son.
I was reminded in that small moment, that we are always the hands and feet of Christ here on earth for each other and that we are our brothers’ keepers.