I read this on facebook the other day and it struck me by it’s truth and simplicity. I think so much of hopelessness is compounded by loneliness.
It made me think of how I felt a couple of years ago when things were leading up to and going through my divorce. I don’t think I had ever felt so alone and abandoned.
There were so many days when driving to work seemed a huge and impossible task. I would have to keep pushing myself just to get in the car.
I work in an area of town where a daytime shelter for homeless people is located. So I would often see a person walking down the road waiting for the shelter to open. But I began to notice that one man was always walking the opposite direction, away from the shelter.
It was days before I could look beyond my sorrow and really take notice of the man. I would see how when a car approached on the road, he always turned his face away and down. It was as if he couldn’t or didn’t want to make any sort of contact.
The odd thing was, that once I began to look, this man, while turning from other cars, would always look up as I drove by. We would actually make eye contact. That first time, I was so surprised I didn’t smile or speak. I kept driving, tears still streaming from my eyes.
The next time I saw him walking along the road, turning his head away from oncoming cars, I thought I must have imagined that previous glance.
As I approached him, he looked up at me, our eyes met and this time I raised my hand and spoke. He returned the gesture and we both moved on.
I began to watch everyday for the little man. The odd thing was that he was only along that road on the days I was in such despair over the hopelessness of my situation. Every time, he would look up, speak and smile. It became that I knew with certainty that if I was in stress, he would be there. I never stopped and he never waved me down.
One day, as the tears ran down my face like the rain on my windshield, I saw him walking along. I stopped, grabbed my umbrella and hopped out of my car. I gave him the umbrella and five dollars asking him if he would allow me to buy him a cup of coffee for the day. He smiled, thanked me and walked on.
We continued to wave and smile as we would pass on most mornings. I have no doubt that God sent that little man to me everyday that I needed to know someone out there saw me. Those small, to some what would seem insignificant, interactions where all that kept me going forward many days.
I began to tell myself that if I saw him today, I could make it through. It would prove to me that someone cared, someone took the time to smile. The days he would not be in his usual spot along the drive, I would feel despondent. But I needn’t have doubted, by the time I parked my car, I would look down at the road and there he would be. Without me saying a word, he would look up, smile and wave.
I don’t see him as often now. I may see him standing outside of Krogers and I stop and speak, sometimes asking if I can by him dinner and giving him some money. It is such a small thing for what he did for me. I have thanked him, telling him that his kindness made such a difference in my life and was often the only thing that got me through the day. He just smiled.
I used to wonder where he had gone, what street he walked down now. But then I realized that he had completed what he was meant to do for me. I hope, no I believe, that he has moved on to another life he was meant to intervene in. One that needed to see and know that someone cared.
So the next time you are driving down the road or walking through the store, take time to make eye contact with others. Smile, nod. You don’t know that that small, random act of kindness just may be what keeps them going for that day. A small thing for you-can be huge for someone else.
For me, I thank God for that little man. I consider him a gift that God sent to keep me going. An angel that God sent to let me know that someone does care, that He cares.
“Be not forgetful to entertain strangers: for thereby some have entertained angels unawares.” Hebrews 13:2
p.s. I did find out that he was not homeless as I thought. He actually lives with his sister, so that eased my mind.