Wednesday, September 12, 2007

a man in atlanta

i’m in atlanta. last week i taught a course in las vegas, and this week i am in atlanta.

on sunday morning past, i walked about to explore my temporary neighborhood for where i might find fresh fruit, brown rice, tofu, or steamed vegetables (i don’t often find these in my lovely hotels). as i was walking about, a man approached me, and as soon as he caught my attention, he begged me to hear him out. “please,” he implored, “i am not a panhandler, but i need to ask you something.” i smiled at him and listened. he explained his situation of being diagnosed with pancreatitus, now needing to have a prescription filled and finding himself $6 short, thus needing my help. “i am not asking you for the entire $6, just something to help with part of it, and i will find others to help with the rest.” he explained that due to his condition he usually could not work, that he was subject to bouts of nausea and vomiting. he was as nervous as my conference attendees will be today when they must present a business case to finish their course. his hands were shaking and he was breaking into a sweat and had to pause for a moment to compose himself before he continued. “i have the prescription here so you can see….” he held out a piece of paper to me. i didn’t have my glasses on and, well, i didn’t need to see his papers anyway. where has it ever been indicated that the Universe’s request for generosity and an open heart needs to be supported with proof or documentation? i didn’t need his papers. i had in front of me an opportunity to be kind, generous, and loving. i quietly reached into my handbag and pulled out a ten-dollar bill, folded it into a tiny bit and slipped it into his hand. (i didn’t think it needed to be apparent to others walking about that i was helping this man; he was embarrassed enough to be asking for help.) oh, my goodness, he was so grateful and so shocked i thought he was about to pee his pants. tears filled his eyes, a rush of words ran from his lips…he explained that he had just asked for help from church people leaving their morning worship service and they had chastised him, told him he should be working, that he should not be begging. he was humiliated and devastated to be shunned by church people.

there are those who would respond to my story by asking me how do i know he was telling the truth? how do i know he won’t spend the money on alcohol or drugs? i don’t know. and it is my understanding that i don’t need to know. my work on my path is to give to the poor; his work on his path is to use wisely what is given to him. i am called to be loving and open-hearted. i am not commissioned to be his judge.

the man said he will not forget me, not for as long as he lives. he said it is my smile, and my acceptance in listening to him and not pushing him away, that he will remember the most. and you know, i believe he is telling the truth. he will not forget that on a hot day in downtown atlanta, for a moment he was heard and accepted and given to. he will remember.


Poison said...

it was a great thing that u did.

diana christine said...

poison, thank you for your lovely blessing....