The place was busy. There were people milling around. I guess many were waiting to get out of the traffic and go home. I was parked in front of the mall, wiping my car. I had just come from the car wash and was waiting for my wife to get off work. It had been a long day and I was tired. Coming my way from across the parking lot was what society would consider a bum, a very poor member of society. From the looks of him, he had no car, no home, no clean clothes, and no money. There are times when you feel generous, but there are other times that you just don't want to be bothered. This was one of those "don't want to be bothered times."
"I hope he doesn't ask me for any money," I thought. He didn't. He came and sat on the curb in front of the bus stop, but he didn't look like he could have enough money to even ride the bus. After a few minutes he spoke to me.
"That's a very pretty car," he said. He was tagged but he had an air of dignity around him. "His scraggly grey beard probably kept his face warm," I thought. I said, "Thanks," and continued wiping my car. He sat there quietly as i worked. I was waiting for him to ask me for money. The expected plea for money never came.
As the silence between us stretched, a voice inside me said, "Ask him if he needs any help." I was sure that he would say "Yes" but I held true to the inner voice. "Do you need any help?" I asked. He answered in three simple but profound words that I shall never forget. We often look for wisdom in great men and women. We expect it from those of higher leaning and accomplishments. I expected nothing but an outstretched grimy hand. He spoke the three worlds that took me by surprise. "Don't we all?" he said.
I was feeling high and mighty, successful and important. I felt that I was above a bum in street, until those three words hit me like a twelve-gauge shotgun. Don't we all ? Don't we all need help almost daily and in different ways? I needed help. Maybe not for bus fare or a place to sleep, but I needed help. I reached in my wallet and gave him money, not only enough for bus fare, but enough to get a warm meal and shelter for the day. Those three little words still ring true. No matter how much you have, no matter how much you have accomplished, you need help too. You need help in many ways. You need someone to listen to your problems, someone to hold your hand, someone to care for you. An no matter how little you have, no matter how bogged down you are with problems, even without money or a place to sleep, you can give help. You can be kind; you can be gentle an offer a cup of tea or just a smile.
Even if it is just a compliment, you can give that. You need know when you may see someone who appears to have it all. They are waiting for you to give them what they do not have. Perhaps you can give a different perspective on life, a glimpse at something beautiful, a break from daily chaos that only you, through a world mired in problems, can see. I really thought about that man I met. I wondered where he got his perceptive outlook from. He reminded me of something that I had forgotten – that people do need help and there are people who can give the help. Maybe the man was just a homeless transfer wandering in the streets. Maybe he was more than that. Maybe he was sent by a power that was great and wise, to minister to souls too comfortable in themselves. Maybe God looked down, called an Angel, dressed him like a bum and the said,