I pulled over in the grocery store parking lot and dug through my purse. I was troubled to see I would have to choose between a five or fifty dollar bill.
I rolled down my window. He stood there holding his sign. Cars passed. It took him a moment to notice me.
I held out the bill. He hurried over. When he got closer, his eyes honed in on what I extended. How much was it? Would it be enough? Would it be what he needed? I too wanted something that I couldn’t see. I felt my own desperation in his expression.
Something changed when I saw myself in him, when I saw myself as him. Simultaneously, I felt the presence of God as if we, all three, were interchangeable–a unity, a lack of separation. It was transcendent.
It was a demonstration that God provides. He provided for this man through me, and would continue through a series of others, but what was provided?
The man took what I offered and said,
Thank you for giving.
When I saw him two weeks later, he looked different.
- His hair was cut.
- He was clean shaven.
- He stood tall.
- He was radiant.
- He smiled.
I didn’t see him again.
The True Gift
I wondered about that exchange for months. This is what I saw, and it wasn’t about the money.
When I saw through the dejected person in front of me and noticed what we shared, what was holy, worthy and enduring reflected back to me.
There is such a longing in me (in you too?) to know who I am; the me beyond self-doubt, the me beyond better or worse, the me who sees no fault in my neighbor because I see no fault in myself. I didn’t recognize this for months, but this was the me I saw by seeing the same in him.
We do need groceries, a haircut, and a comfortable place to sleep. We also need to remember who we are, to whom we belong and how to see. In this purse, giving is receiving. Giving makes more, and it’s never about the money.
image credit: Outside the Kansas City Public Library ©2013 Marie LaForce
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