Two years ago I met a homeless woman outside of Starbucks. She had a supermarket cart with all her belongings near downtown Asheville. I stopped and asked if she wanted a cup of coffee as she was pushing that sucker on the sidewalk. She was sweet and said, “No thank you. I’m good!”
I asked her another question just to stop her from moving. “Are you heading to a shelter?”
She answered, “I spent the night in one. I am heading to the park. I like to feed the squirrels.” She was a jolly heavy woman probably in her sixties. For a moment her matted gray hair looked like a bird’s nest on her head but I looked closer and saw the most beautiful pins and clips holding it together. I complimented her on them. She began to take one off to give to me. I told her that I couldn’t put anything in my short hair.
“Thank you.” I asked if I could give her a hug and she happily extended her arms out so I could move into them. I wished her a nice day. She went off pushing her tiny home up the hill leaving me with such love and joy for her sweetness. I was overcome by gratitude and that day I needed it.
Here is the thing that touches me about someone who has nothing: they are willing to give a part of their nothingness. She was willing to give me a part of her life to make ME HAPPY. She wanted me to feel joy with those clips. I see a lot of this in homeless and mentally ill folks. I see a lot of these selfless acts in those who are used to having little or nothing at all.
This is the simplicity of grace. Graciousness in humanity.
So…when you are moving through this season with the stress of giving or not giving; of having or not having; please realize you have more than you need.
It takes nothing to be kind. It takes even less to make someone’s day with a smile, a small chit chat, and a sweet word. These are the folks that teach us how to truly be grateful for those things we think are important. They bring us back to humanity. The world is made of such acts. We forget that we don’t need much to give to another. Heck…just a dollar in coins is sufficient. Carry around granola bars in your car and hand them to the homeless begging on corners…they love them. And if you can’t afford that…then a hug will be just what another needs.
Happy holidays, dear friends! May you find the true meaning of a generous heart in a stranger today!