Dearest Rachel –
I will always remember your generous spirit, both in terms of your time and effort, and in terms of just giving to people. When a matter would arise that we agreed we should contribute to, I would always talk to you about how much we should give. For the most part, the number you had come up with in your heart was greater than that of mine, and, as my dad always told me (referring to Mom, but obviously intending me to apply the same consideration to you), “if the Spirit moves her to give something, you do not stand in the way of the Spirit.” So, we would go with your figure almost all the time.
So I would hope you would appreciate this little incident, and approve.
Jan went with me this afternoon as we took your luggage and a whole lot of other things to Goodwill for donation. The place is, as you know, part of what we always refer to as ‘the triangle,’ three major roads that converge to form a fairly large wedge of commercial retail properties – particularly, a number of our favorite restaurants. It’s a little expansive and full of actual vehicular traffic for anyone to compare it to a food court, but it isn’t that far from being one to us.
At any rate, we were picking up lunch for Jan at Jimmy John’s (I was going to just have leftovers from my lunch with Pastor Scott on Monday), and Jan was aghast to see someone on the median at the intersection of Golf and Algonquin.
“That is so dangerous!”
“Yeah, well… that’s actually a fairly common sight. Look, it’s where the traffic is, it’s where they can get the most handouts.” I’m sure I sounded heartless and blasé about it, but you know, we have sort of gotten accustomed to folks begging at certain crowded intersections these days. The off-ramp from IL-53 onto Golf Road is another one where you can see people like this. The economy hasn’t been good for everybody, and hard times have hit the suburbs, too, these days.
I don’t know what to make of these people, to be honest, and I kind of said as much to Jan. As far as I’m concerned, this seems like almost as much effort as it does to actually work a job; especially in colder times like last week (and you see them then, too, sometimes. Not as much as in the summer, but still…) Don’t know if there’s a professional class of beggar, but some of them come off that way. You almost wonder if it’s an act, and yet, what it takes to commit to such an act leaves you thinking they must still be desperate regardless.
But after expressing such doubts to Jan about the legitimacy of their needs, and pulling into the parking lot in front of Jimmy John’s, what should happen but I run into someone, asking me for a hot meal from Teriyaki Express (huh, I’ve never seen that place before. Daniel and I will probably have to check it out some time).
Well. At this point, the guy needs a meal, I can feed him… I really shouldn’t deny him what I can provide.
If you have what your neighbor asks for, don’t say, “Come back later. I will give it to you tomorrow.”Proverbs 3:28, Expanded Bible
I told him I was going to Jimmy John’s, and was he okay with that. He agreed; he basically said he couldn’t be picky. So I went in there, let him order, and placed orders for Jan’s and Daniel’s sandwiches as well. Once the guy left, the fellow behind the counter cut my total bill down by a few bucks. Evidently, the guy was familiar enough that the fellow knew a good deed when he saw one. I thanked him as I paid and left with the two sandwiches I’d originally intended to purchase.
Look, I’m not telling this story to pat myself on the back or anything. Honestly, it’s just a relatively weird experience to be approached like that in the first place, and once you are, what else is there to do but to open your hand? Especially since it’s a specific need you can fulfill, why not do it?
After all… you would have done the same.
Heck, I recall us being approached elsewhere by a guy asking for a few dollars ‘so I can buy some smokes.’ After reproaching him for the habit (‘yeah, I know, I’ve tried to quit, man,’ he acknowledged), you and I gave him three dollars in appreciation for his honesty.
Yeah, I’m sure I’m branding myself as a soft touch. After all, ‘the poor you will always have with you.’ But still, sometimes one can do that ‘little thing’ – and I know you would have – so all I can do is keep up with you on that front.
Thanks again for that piece of your legacy.